For a holiday full of fun, history, and great food
Carnival – or ‘Carnevale’ – is a passion of the people of Puglia, and for anyone who loves out-of-the-ordinary holidays, the timing is just right. Nearly every town has its own particular carnival tradition and it own history, but from Gallipoli southwards it becomes particularly fascinating.
The most famous Carnival in Puglia after that of Putignano is, indeed, that of Gallipoli and everyone in the town gets involved. In the months leading up to it the papier-mâché masters build impressive themed floats that will be towed through the town’s streets. Gallipoli has its own mask, Lu Tidoru, who on the Tuesday during carnival according to legend, ate so many sausages and rissoles that he choked himself to death. The story is re-enacted by a colourful procession accompanied by a makeshift band and a group of youngsters crying and shouting. It’s a spectacle you won’t want to miss.
Much the same goes for the Scorrano Carnival when, following the traditional parade, there is the burning of the ‘Pascalino’ mask, which symbolically burns the party and the merrymaking.
Less well-known but just as typical of the area are the events organised in Casarano and Andrano, with themed floats from various villages and towns and groups of people in masks, lots of dances, and pranks for all tastes, for adults and children – all in the interests of good fun and letting rip.
The carnival traditions and legends that attract you to Salento can be a great opportunity to discover charming Salento villages away from the busy tourist spots, where the local people’s unique identity has remained fully intact. During your holiday why not also take the opportunity to visit Andranno Castle or the Scorrano fortified town? Scorrano dates back to medieval times, testified to by the one remaining ancient city gate, the Porta Terra.
Then if you’re happy going a few more kilometres, you can also go and see the Grecia Salentina Carnival that takes place in Martignano every year. High point of this one is the ‘death of Paulinu’ – or “morte te lu Paulinu’ in Italian, Martignano’s own traditional mask. This is celebrated on the Tuesday during the carnival after the parade and after a race between teams of people all wearing masks.
In Salento there’s so much to see and do even in mid-winter: as well as the masked festivals and the other traditions, winter draws out the very best of the local cuisine, with the area’s typical Carnival dishes: cartiddati – delicious fried, local pastries in the shape of flowers, eaten dipped in vincotto and honey; Carnival ‘chiacchiere’ biscuits – fried pastry squares lightly dusted with icing sugar; ‘fucassa de Carnuale’, a savoury tart containing pork, sheep’s cheese, mozzarella and tomatoes and more… there’s something for everyone in every bakery and cake shop in Salento’s towns and villages as they celebrate Carnival.