Do not call it just Carnival

Waiting for the Carnevale but do not call it just carnival.

Only few days before the start of the Carnevale of Foiano della Chiana and the changes are now underway. All the houses in the center but also many of those in the suburbs, hang the flags that color this village already born as a rainbow, the music all around fills the days of those who go through the narrow streets and squares, the “cantieri” are sealed and full of people day and night who do their utmost to complete the work, the seamstresses are busy with edges, cuts, sequins and knick-knacks of all kinds to make the clothes as explosive as possible and the “Comitato” is preparing to complete the details of what will be the great annual party, always the same for 480 years and always different. We are here, waiting for the surprise.

The first moment of extreme tension, similar to when you were about to discard the gift waited for a year as a child, is the opening of the “uscioni”.

At 10:00 on the morning of the first carnival Sunday, everyone gets together, wearing the colors of belonging (white and red for Bombolo, white and blue for the Rustici, yellow and black for the Nottambuli and light blue for the Azzurri), in the Cantieri square to wait with real apprehension of the opening of the giant sliding doors that will present the Opera to the people. How I would like to have a suitable vocabulary to explain in words the emotion of that moment! But I cannot, you could just try to come and see and at least guess what I try to tell you with so much effort.

A huge and whispering crowd is waiting to see the floats and assess if for that year there are chances of victory or if its own Cantiere risks defeat. Obviously these thoughts are strictly personal and intimate because everyone always defends his work at the cost of saying things absurd and meaningless.

At a certain point, a space begins to be created in front of the “cantiere” that has been chosen by lot to be the first to parade and therefore also the first to be seen. The immense crowd falls silent and the looks are all turned in one direction. From inside the huge hangar you can hear a music at high volume and slowly, with patience calculated and with the delicacy with which you would put the blanket over a child, the door (uscione) opens like a curtain, from the center towards the sides. Often smoke, colored or white comes out, or a flag as big as the entrance, sometimes balloons have flown, in short, everyone invents something to prolong the wait, to make everything even more suggestive than it already is and then … here we can see the first figures, the first colors and the first movements. The eyes of those who worked there, light up with joy and terror because if on the one hand there is finally the pride of being able to show everyone the great masterpiece, on the other there is the well-founded uncertainty of “will it really work? Does it move as we had imagined? “. Yes, because until then NOBODY could really and completely try out the movements. The float “in maximum expansion” we say so, does not enter the hangar so to see all the giant moving are made of very short and very secret night outings very difficult to achieve and of short duration. I repeat, the work must remain secret until the public opening of the “uscioni” so how else could they do?

Finally, however, here we are, time has run out and we must present ourselves to the crowd who clearly begins to exchange glances and winks to share happiness or fear.
This immense avalanche of emotions and thoughts is repeated for 4 times, none excluded until all 4 floats are not lined up on the square to head towards the village.

The second moment of ecstasy and panic (I do not use excessive terms, I swear) takes place at 2.30 pm in Piazza Fra’ Benedetto. There is a balcony where the panel of judges will be placed. The “Giuria”.

The “Giuria” is composed of 5 professionals, invited to this role by the president of the “Comitato del Carnevale”: a sculptor, a painter, a set designer, an art critic and a journalist. They must reside and operate outside a radius of 130 km from Foiano and only the president of the Comitato may have contacts with them, no one else must be aware of their identity until the floats are presented. After they have seen the floats parade (twice), they will have to issue a judgment giving a vote of 1 to 5 and an argument to that vote. The votes of the panel will be immediately withdrawn by the hands of a notary who will guarantee their secrecy and keep them sealed until the end of the event.

The first Sunday of Carnival begins at 10:00 and ends at 18:00 (for ordinary mortals) but are 8 hours exhausting on an emotional and mental level, so much so that when you come home you are exhausted and you only need the hot soup that “fix” your stomach and a soft bed where to sink to finally relax after a year of hard work. This is only the first Sunday.

And you, do you really want to call it just Carnival?