03/13 February, Acireale (CT)
Carnival of Acireale the most beautiful Carnival of Sicily, with allegorical floats, parades of masked groups and shows. A theater of wonders: masks, confetti, lights, flowers, music and above all lots of human warmth.
The beautiful streets and squares of the historic center of Acireale are the ideal setting for a show that reaches its climax with the parades of the carts, through which the acai artisans express their wit and imagination, stimulating that of others. Admire the fashion shows is like flipping through a magazine of various topics, always treated with much allegory and a lot of satire, so that even the most serious problems can generate a smile, becoming at the same time an object of reflection. The Carnival is the long festive period that precedes the Lenten fast in the countries with a Catholic tradition. It is believed for a long time that the origin of the term carnival was derived from meat levare. The most widespread opinion is that carnival represents a Christian adaptation of ancient pagan purifying ceremonies. The historical reconstruction of the carnival, in a city like Acireale, is rather complex. From some documents, such as payment orders, it is certain that this anniversary was already celebrated at the end of the sixteenth century.
The oldest document on the Achaian carnival (payment mandates, vol II, 1586-1595, book 6 sheet 72v) dates back to 1594. A document dating back to 1612 even proves that during the Achaian carnival there was a habit of playing by pulling oranges and lemons. In fact in this document this possibility is banned, but the Achaean population continued in this practice for many years, as is clear from other documents. This habit is still present in Ivrea, where during the carnival the well known battle of oranges takes place.
In the seventeenth century in Sicily there is the appearance of a mask with well-defined characteristics: the Abbatazzu, also called Pueta Minutizzu. The person mimicked nobles or clergymen, carrying a large book, from which he pretended to read, sentenced satirical and teasing jokes. In 1693, following the earthquake, any carnival practice was forbidden and this marked the fracture line between the Acese carnival of the seventeenth century and that which will arise in the 18th century (Cherubino Aliotta, Le tre corone, Catania 1693). In the eighteenth century the tradition was resumed. Other masks appear, and Abbatazzu flanks the Baruni with the intent to make fun of the aristocracy: in fact, the mask was built from a costume resembling a noble but clearly irrational dress. Another mask was the Manti, a costume with many frills that had the sole purpose of keeping the anonymity of the wearer. The 21st century is the century of cassariata, that is the parade of carriages (landaus) of the nobles who threw the multicolored candies to the people. Subsequently these landaus with the noble owners were removed from papier-maché. In 1880 the first paper pulp wagons were built in Acireale. From then until today, Acireale has maintained this tradition using various yards carried out by willing craftsmen who have made wagons increasingly cared for.
In 1929 the character of spontaneity and private initiative gave way to institutionalized organization: in fact, the burden of organizing the carnival is supported this year by the Autonomous Company of the Acireale Treatment Station. In 1930, for the first time, cars are adorned with flowers. This is the first step towards the realization of the flowered wagons that acquire a well-defined physiognomy in the post-war period. In the 50s – 60s to allegorical floats and infiorate machines, there were also mini-carts, called lilliputs, on board a child. In recent years, there are some people who have left their mark on the history of the Achaean carnival with their spirits and amazing masks, namely: Cola Taddazza and Quadaredda, of whom the most worthy successor, in the later period, was Ciccitto. From 1970 to 1995 “The most beautiful Carnival of Sicily”, it is perfected and settles down, becoming more and more imposing and above all by refining in the construction of allegorical Chariots (more and more sophisticated and colored) and flowered Carri (more and more mammoths), which reach a level of importance equal to the first ones. In 1996, Acireale, for the first time, has the national lottery together with Viareggio and Putignano. This is the opportunity for “The most beautiful Carnival of Sicily” to acquire a national dimension.
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