Call it Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras in the United States, here in Italy, I’ve learned to call it “Carnevale” and it isn’t just one day- the parties, floats , costumes and confetti go on for weeks – culminating in the giorno grosso!
Okay, we’re not in Venice, which knocks it out of the Carnevale park each year, just check out the crowd for this year’s festivities.
But here in Arezzo, we have had our own wonderful happenings. Museums and theaters have had special events, and every department store, in which you can’t find a costume to save a little trick-or-treater’s life on Halloween, is now festooned with brightly colored super heroes, royalty and fairy tale characters.
And on Saturday, Scotty and I opened our “castle” doors to our first soiree – a mixture of Carnevale and New Orleans-style Mardi Gras as some of our friends actually wore masks from Venice.
And my friend Heather baked her first ever- King Cake, complete with tinting the sugar herself as Italy doesn’t get quite so crazy with their sprinkles. It tasted delicious!
And I whipped up some spicy Jambalaya – albeit with Italian, not Andouille, sausage!
The grown-ups and the kids all had a terrific time – I think I’ll be finding bits of confetti around here until July.
But what really knocked me out is the way Lulu’s Italian pre-school went all out for Carnevale. Now, this was a party!
The recreation room at Saint Agnese church was over-run with pink and lavender princesses.
Lulu and her best friend, Allegra, were both Rapunzel!
Complete with matching pink tights that they just had to show me!
There were ninjas, little ponies, Minnie mouses (mice?!) and spidermen.
My favorite was this homemade toddler-sized Arlecchino costume. Terrific!
Alecchnio, Pulcinella and his other masked Commedia dell’Arte buddies were even found on the cookies on the gigantic spread.
And forget about the sausage in my Jambalaya, this pre-school party featured the big-daddy of all Italian pork specialties: porchetta!! (Which, if you don’t know, happens to be a suckling pig deboned, stuffed with its own liver and spices and roasted! – more about that in my new book, Because I’m Small Now and You Love Me)
Everybody ate. Grown-ups drank red wine. Children ran and played and pelted each other with streamers or filati di stele. And, with the professional DJs playing oldies like “YMCA” and latest global hits like “Gangnam Style” – everyone danced!
Then, perhaps after a little more wine, the grownups started in with the karaoke. All the songs were in Italian, until some bright bird suggested since I was the only American there, I should sing something in English. Well, I did. Blessedly, there is no photographic evidence of said spectacle that can be posted here!
Wherever you are, Whatever your age! Happy Mardi Gras today! And Buon Carnevale!
p.s. The song was Gloria Gaynor’s fabulous disco-hit “I Will Survive” – okay, the less said about it, the better!