While we were hauling loads of stuff from our old apartment to the new place, scrubbing and cleaning both, and feeling generally exhausted, Carnevale sprang upon Ascoli Piceno like someone had ignited a flame. All of a sudden the giant chandeliers were strung over the piazza, seasonal sweets appeared in the pastry shops and open-air food booths, and a general sense of mayhem began to prevail. Unlike many other Italian cities that celebrate the pre-lented rite of gluttony, Ascoli's Carnevale is not a complete bacchanalia. There will be plenty of parties between now and Ash Wednesday, to be sure, but a lot of the public activities are centered on the kids. We've been seeing lots of cuties in costumes. The schools had organized events for the little ones to put on skits, each class having planned and executed their costumes and themes. They are just too cute!
In the coming days we'll have a grand mascherata where the good citizens poke fun at local and national politics or happenings. Stages around the centro are erected for the groups who entered to play out their charades and be judged on costumes and originality. Here, it is mostly the parade participants who don masks and costumes; everyone else gathers for the passeggiata to observe and laugh. Kids are unleashed with cans of silly string and a shaving cream-like foam which they spray all over the place (and all over everyone in their paths). It's a messy form of "good clean fun".
We took a break from unpacking and cleaning to attend the festivities in nearby Offida, where an infamous Carnevale ritual takes place called Il Bove Finto (the fake bull). I'll fill you in on that once I get the photos loaded. Tonight we're impegnati (scheduled) to go with friends to an organized party in a teensy hill town where a cenone (grand dinner) and dancing are included. Costumes are thankfully optional. Since we can barely locate our normal clothes, we are relieved to not have to try to devise some sort of get-up.
But now, it's back to cleaning. And unpacking. Carnevale will have to wait a while.