Alessandria del Carretto is a small village which sits high up in the Pollino mountains. As a matter of fact, it’s the highest village in the Pollino National Park sitting over 1000 metres above sea level, giving you probably one of the most impressive views of the Pollino mountain range as well as the Gulf of Taranto.
And although this town may be small, they do things up big when it comes to their most prized festivals – one of these taking place during Carnevale.
This town has held on to its ancient traditions and given this towns generous hospitality and unique celebrations, people come from all over to take part in these long-standing cultural events.
The Carnival of Alessandria del Carretto
Every year, the streets of Alessandria del Carretto become infested with mysterious characters, known as “Polëcënellë” or “I Pucinella Belli e Brutti”, wearing traditional masks and costumes. They parade the narrow streets of the village teasing and engaging with villagers and visitors alike.
The Carnival, one of the oldest in Calabria, is very special. Spectators become immersed in this procession, a sort of theatrical show, allowing you to feel entwined in the magic that is created when tradition and legend combine.
According to tradition the Polëcënellë Bielle (Pulcinella Belli) represent beauty and vitality while the Polëcënellë Bruttë (Pulcinella Brutti) represent disorder and chaos. The dance that is created between these two characters tells of the eternal struggle between order and disorder, light and dark, death and rebirth.
The procession between these two characters are eventually met with the mask of Ursë, a hideous robust man with animal-like features who represents the dark forces of nature that man must come up against and conquer.
The procession finishes with the Coremmë, the figure representing the incarnation of Lent and the end of the carnival period. This character, in mourning, is dressed all in black with its face covered in ash.
There is an incredible amount of time and work that goes into this annual event, but the result is a cultural experience that is so unique and, in my opinion, so important to share and continue for future generations.
Image Credits: Carnevale di Alessandria del Carretto