Sonntag, 29.03.2020 11:28 Uhr

Piedmontese Historical Carnivals.

Verantwortlicher Autor: Maurizio Monge Torino, 21.02.2020, 21:04 Uhr
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The Grand Gala of Masks and historical figures at the Santhià Carnival
The Grand Gala of Masks and historical figures at the Santhià Carnival  Bild: Maurizio Monge

Torino [ENA] The Piedmontese carnival traditions are lost in the mists of time and represent a picturesque and colorful middle ground between history and legend. The most important and well-known Carnivals of the Piedmont Region are: Ivrea, Borgosesia, Crescentino, Mondovì, Rocca Grimalda and Santhià.

The best known is undoubtedly Ivrea, famous everywhere for the traditional "Battle of the Oranges" which represents the revolt of the people (the orange throwers on foot) against the forces of the tyrant (the orange throwers on the wagons). For three consecutive afternoons, the teams on foot, without any protection, fight, with orange blows, against the "orange throwers" on the wagons, equipped instead with protective leather helmets. The public and all those who do not belong to one of the two factions have the obligation to wear a special headdress (the Phrygian cap) that protects them from receiving the launches of the citrus fruit. Let's move on to another event: the Carnival of Borgosesia. 110 years old.

It has in the "Mercu Scurot" the particularity that differentiates it from all the others. The "Mercu Scurot" represents a double anomaly with respect to the traditional carnival rules for two reasons: firstly it takes place outside the classical period which ends with the "Shrove Tuesday", going beyond Lent already and then its tradition is not of popular or peasant origin. It is a highly transgressive party born in 1854 when the Alsatian technician Baumann, returning from the celebrations of "Shrove Tuesday", decided to organize a real carnival funeral in his home, inviting friends and relatives to attend the commemoration in person.

The latter, aware of the exceptional nature of the idea, dressed in ceremonial clothes, frak, top hat, bow tie, and staged a real funeral procession along the streets of the village. The Historical Carnival of Crescentino celebrates events that develop at the turn of history and legend; takes its cue from a fact that really happened in 1529: the local gentleman, Count Riccardo Tizzoni, who already harassed his population with all sorts of abuses, taxes and taxes of all kinds, decided to impose the "ius primae noctis" on all young women brides of its territory.

The legend then tells that, during the night between 14 and 15 February 1529, during the last days of the carnival, the daughter of the miller from Mulino Stella, a fresh bride and therefore forced to spend the night in the tyrant's palace, somehow managed to break free and cut the head of Count Tizzoni, just as the bell of the civic tower rang, calling the population to revolt. The bride then became the symbol of the Crescentino Carnival with the title of "Regina Papetta". The historical Carnival of Mondovì dates back to the 16th century and every year it returns to cheer, with 10 days of pure joy, the inhabitants of the lower Piedmont.

The Moro, symbol of this carnival, takes its cue from an iron automaton, made by a local craftsman, who, equipped with a hammer, strikes the hours on a bell placed on the facade of the Church of San Pietro, in the center of Mondovì. The main characters that animate this historical re-enactment are: Pietro, servant of the Moro; Emperor Otto I with his daughter, Princess Adelasia; the squire Aleramo; the storyteller; Karim; the bridesmaids, the armigers and the minstrels; but above all the real protagonist of the carnival: the "Béla Monregaleisa", kidnapped by the Moro, at the service of Adelasia and then finally free to pursue the dream of creating a village where the city of Mondovì is now located.

Rocca Grimalda, in the province of Alessandria, is the seat of the historic carnival of the same name. This event is based on the "Lachera", a mixture of dance, ritual and theatrical representation. Contaminated over the centuries by truly historical events, it originates from ancient propitiatory spring rites. Here too it seems that everything derives from the revolt of the population against the gentleman of the country who claimed, among other things, to exercise the right of the "ius primae noctis" against young brides. I last left the Historical Carnival of Santhià, the oldest in Piedmont, because I will personally follow it during these holidays and I will try to illustrate it with photos, interviews and reports.

Its origins date back to the early 14th century and it is truly one of the richest carnivals in traditional events and manifestations that have been handed down for centuries. The main protagonists of the Carnival are two young people: "Stevulin" and "Majutin", who for three days are the absolute masters of the city! Legend tells us that the two farmers arrived centuries ago in Santhià from two nearby farmhouses, on their honeymoon. The local gentleman, to satisfy the popular will, handed them the keys of the city, allowing them to govern and administer justice for three days.

The two protagonists change, of course, every year and just yesterday evening, during the Gran Gala of masks and historical characters, the official presentation of the couple of boys took place which will impersonate the two young people during this 2020 carnival. The ceremony, within the "Palacarvè La Stampa", it saw the intervention of 95 masked groups from Piedmont, Valle D’Aosta, Liguria and Lombardy, as well as representatives of mayors and councilors of neighboring countries. By telephone, the President of the Piedmont Region, Alberto Cirio, sent all the protagonists and organizers the best wishes for a good carnival from the whole Regional Council.

The next official appointment is scheduled for Saturday when Stevulin and Majetin will receive the Keys of the City from the Mayor. For some years two new characters have become part of the large number of protagonists of the Santhià Carnival: the "masks". There are always two splendid girls who have the task of acting as "godmothers" to all events and to bring some youthful beauty to the carnival village. This year the choice fell on two young Piedmontese models: Chiara Curci di Canelli, in the province of Asti, and Giulia Bobocea of Turin. They were also crowned yesterday evening at the Gran Galà which ended with the cutting of a huge cake.

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