Carnival masks and typical sweets in Emilia

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Rediscover the authentic traditions of Emilia, going in search of the true essence of the Carnival festivities in the provinces of Parma, Piacenza and Reggio Emilia.
The real parades are that of the typical masks and that of the sweets: a colourful, high-sugar float.

Typical sweets:

    The real taste of Carnival in Parma comes from the sweets: during this festive period, the streets of the city are invaded by the heady scent of the legendary chiacchiere (chatters) and sweet fried or baked tortelli, filled with jam or cream. The chiacchiere are a real must during this period: crispy fried pastry, covered with icing sugar.
    To use a pun, chiacchiere are also made in Piacenza. Only here they call them Sprell. However, the experts at the historic Pasticceria Falicetto are masters of Turtlitt ad Sant'Antoni, pancakes filled with mostarda or chocolate cream, amaretto and chestnuts. There are also the Gonfietti (nomen omen) or sgionfini, whose characteristic feature is the hollow interior, perfect for filling with custard or chocolate; if you wish, you can also enrich the dough before being fried with sultanas or pieces of apple.
    In terms of sweets, Reggio Emilia is second to none. Carnival here means pastry shop windows crammed with trays full of Intrigoni (intrigòun in Reggio dialect, similar to chiacchiere), castagnole, apple fritters, sweet ravioli, cream-filled fritters and frittole.


Typical masks:

    The typical mask of Parma is Al Dsévod, literally 'the insipid', a dandy with little character who made his appearance in the city in 1621, a time when nobles used to send their sons with servants in tow to study at boarding school. Legend has it that it was one of these servants, sent as a joke by his master to a town parade, where he was supposed to pretend to be the young aristocrat, who inaugurated the tradition of the costume. Realising that this outfit with its duck-shaped hat allowed him to say and do anything, the page Salati decided to give a name to his alter ego, which by contrast would thus be called Insipido, or 'Discevido' - later Desevedo and finally Dsèvod - in the Parma dialect. The yellow and blue colours of the costume date back to 1947. Since 1948, the figure of the Dsèvod has been the institutional mask of Parma.
    Speaking of traditional costumes and icons, the Castello dei Burattini - 'Giordano Ferrari Museum' - preserves a veritable arsenal of puppets, masks and characters, including popular icons such as Sandrón Paviròn dal bosch ed satta da Modna and the Bargnocla, created by Italo Ferrari in 1914, considered emanations of the most authentic and free-range Parmesan spirit.
    On the traditional costumes front, there are two typical but now forgotten masks dating back to the turn of the century between the 19th and 20th centuries. If Tôllèin Cuccalla, also by virtue of its greater antiquity, claimed the title of Piacenza's official mask (apparently, he appeared shouting 'me sum Cuccalla, me sumTôllèin and sum la mascra di Piasintein'), the real guest of honour at the city's festivals was Al Vigion, a caricature of the peasants arriving from out of town, imitated with the exaggerated flush of his cheeks and a clumsy elegance of a peasant in transit, mocked with a hat wrapped in ribbons, a coloured tailcoat, a bow tie made of ribbon and big boots with gaiters.
    The 'Castlein' is the symbolic mask of the Castelnovo di Sotto Carnival. Wearing thick peasant shoes, a cap pulled down over his ears and armpit trousers, he has the task of animating the festival by bringing a bit of good humour with the complicity of the clowns and the Sgruzzi, the name given to the entertainers on stilts. The creation of large papier-mâché floats is a true art form that the Castelno Carnival wizards work on for a whole year to honour the carnival event according to ancient tradition.
    Inside the Municipal Fortress of Castelnovo di Sotto, the "Carnival Mask Museum" offers an itinerary to discover the traditional characters and disguises of the occasion, with materials documenting all the stages in the creation of each mask. The collection boasts 222 pieces, a precious collection purchased in 1997 by the Municipal Administration and enhanced by donations from Eugenio Gabrielli.

Last update 17/01/2024