“The Roman Carnival is not really a festival given for the people but one the people give themselves… unlike the religious festivals in Rome, the Carnival does not dazzle the eye: there are no fireworks, no illuminations, no brilliant processions. All that happens is that, at a given signal, everyone has leave to be as mad and foolish as he likes, and almost everything, except fisticuffs and stabbing, is permissible.
The difference between the social orders seems to be abolished for the time being; everyone accosts everyone else, all good-naturedly accept whatever happens to them, and the insolence and licence of the feast is balanced only by the universal good humour.
During this time, even to this day, the Roman rejoices because, though it postponed the festival of the Saturnalia with its liberties for a few weeks, the birth of Christ did not succeed in abolishing it”. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Italienische Reise.
“If you can’t laugh when things go bad–laugh and put on a little carnival–then you’re either dead or wishing you were”. Stephen King, Under the dome.
Between the deep canyons of two tributaries of the Treja river, at the feet of the Cimini mountains, along the ancient Roman Flaminia road, upon a tuff spur you can come across Civita Castellana, a town of a bit more than 16000 citizens and around 56km from Rome center.
I arrived there the day before yesterday and as a traveller in love with Rome region I can recall the words of somebody, much more famous than me (at the moment… ;-):
“Wonderful the view of the Castle: the Soratte Mountain, a limestone mass that probably is part of the Apennine chain, towers above solitary and picturesque. The volcanic areas are lower than the Apennines and only the watercourses, wildly flowing, has engraved them creating elevations and cliffs in wonderfully
sculptural shapes,precipices and a landscape full of discontinuities and fractures”.
I looked for Civita for a special event. A special event, something that in Italy has always shown the resilience of the population through problems, power class obtuseness and misinformation. It’s one of the magical moments in which you see the power of Italian socialization, satire, the joy of playing, the sense of doing things together and being part of humanity and of a world made out of culture, history, beauty, and joy.
You might know that these days go under the name of Carnival but the traditional most important day used to be the last one: Mardi Gras, martedì grasso in Italian.
The most famous Carnival in Italy at the moment is the one of Venice that this year was suffocated by the pandemy. Fame can be hard to carry. All my thoughts of solidarity and positive rays go to Venice population: resist and shine! Break the shade!
Speaking about traditions however the most authentic ones are in less know places. That’s why I looked for Civita Castellana: for my local Mardi Gras! The city as you see is a truly treasure but the creativity and contagious joy of the population was the most exciting experience I lived lately! Enjoy the images and your personal guide playing with shades, ghosts, people, colors, costumes, masks and partying!
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