When you think of Carnival (Italian: carnevale) in Italy, the first place that comes to mind is probably Venice, the most well-known all over the globe, while others may mention Viareggio in Tuscany. Here in Southern Italy, one place in particular which stands out above all the rest is Putignano, a town in the province of Bari with the oldest and longest Carnival celebration in Europe.
The Carnival of Putignano goes as far back as 1394 and kicks off the day after Christmas with the transferring of Holy Relics from Monopoli to Putignano and continuing through to Shrove Tuesday. There are four parades in total: one on the three Sundays before Carnival (this year January 31st, Februrary 8th and 15th) with the last parade taking place on Martedi Grasso aka Fat Tuesday (February 17th).
The parade offers centuries-old traditions and large elaborate papier-mâché floats. But like most carnival parades over the years, it has also taken on the more modern tradition of poking fun at the political and social problems of the country and world. As a matter of fact this year’s theme is “The Seven Deadly Sins” with one of the floats entitled “Cotti e Mangiati” (cooked and eaten) focusing on a certain German politician’s gluttony as the reason for the economic crisis wreaking havoc on many Eurozone countries like Greece, Spain and Italy. That’s right folks; there are no limits and no one is safe from a satirical jab when it comes to Carnival.
There is no doubt that Putignano goes all out giving its spectators a colorful, playful and simply fantastic carnival experience with many delightfully unexpected surprises. One thing is certain though, regardless of where you go in the bel paese, there is certainly no shortage of parades, masquerade balls and parties of all kinds leading up to Carnival.
So, let’s party!