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Discover the Carnival of Fano, the oldest in Italy


10 February 2021

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The Carnival of Fano is one of the oldest in Italy. Its birth is commonly dated back to 1347, the date of the first known document in which the expenses incurred by the Municipality for the carnival celebrations are described.

The Carnival of Fano has been held practically uninterrupted from the fourteenth century to today, starting at least from 1347, the year in which the expenses incurred by the Municipality to buy the necessary for “El giucho de Charnevale”, that is precious cloths, are recorded. Sword, rooster and more for the winners of the palio and spurs and gloves for the “commune ophtial”. Today, almost seven centuries later, like all Carnivals, that of Fano finds itself having to face the consequences of the pandemic, asking the Hamlet question of being there or not in this 2021.

Fano has always wanted a unique Carnival performance; it is no coincidence that its peculiar characteristic is the “jet” of sweets; the first explicit evidence of this custom dates back to 1710, when the spinsters began to “throw confetti to whomever they like, and be courted“; and this behavior was evidently successful if in 1720, among the other prohibitions connected to “carnival activities”, the prohibition of throwing confetti “in holy places” was imposed; in 1765 the road even “whitens” it.


Photo Credits: Diego Baglieri, Mura di Fano 3, CC BY-SA 4.0

The History of the Carnival of Fano

Each edition of the Carnival of Fano is a succession of events created by the imagination of an entire people who from time to time have been able to draw inspiration from reality to interpret it in an ironic key.

For the remote past we are informed by the seventeenth-century historian Vincenzo Nolfi according to which for the entire Malatesta period, which ended in 1463, absolutely original initiatives were organized at Carnival, including the bullfight with the pig instead of the bull, donkey races, “naked” men and the aforementioned “game of tripe”.

But not only that, with allegory it is possible to tell reality, in particular the more complex one, in a simple and effective way; if you add irony and caricature, you get the “recipe” with which the majestic floats that today parade in the masked courses of the Fano Carnival are set up.

The first document that demonstrates the presence of floats during the Fano Carnival dates back to 1711; on that occasion, as the Bishop of the time writes, “a beautiful and sumptuous masquerade of spinsters was dressed more than last year, and without mascara yet, and with carri, Musicians, instruments and men still frayed with the said spinsters in office of dealers, black and white slaves ”; obviously the floats used for daily use for the transport of people and things were used for carnival fun, on the contrary other floats, the much richer and more sophisticated ones of the aristocrats, mentioned in a song of 1765 in which it speaks of “chariots” that they go for the “rich in gold and crystals” course.

In 1810 a carriage set up “in style” is the protagonist of an unpleasant event: a woman in a mask is run over along the course where the masquerade takes place.


The Masks of the Carnival of Fano

The Carnival of Fano does not have its typical mask; it has the “Pupo” who from time to time takes on the appearance of a character who has risen to the fore in the news at local, national or international level, perhaps anticipating the great transformations of society; this is the case, for example, of the “Skier” or the “Villico in Lambretta”; but he can be the simpleton of the country, the politician, the sports champion or even the president of the United States.

According to an interesting interpretation, the Pupo symbolizes “the sacred animal on which the community discharged and perhaps discharges even today all the collective and individual sins committed during the year and particularly in the days of erotic and gastronomic license of the Carnival and the allegorical floats that follow him are nothing more than the revival of the carts on which the officiants and employees went to the altar.



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