Il Carnevale di Fornoli

Because of this year’s late Easter I was able to participate in the Carnival celebrations at Fornoli which, as per last year, were organised by the Mammalucco association. The procession started at the Ponte dell Catene and was headed by an energetically rhythmical drum band. Primary schools from the comune then followed, each one with its own theme.

At one point I was befriended by a mad hatter who appeared to know me well. I had some difficulty in recognizing him before realising that, of course, it was the same Gilberto who’d looked after my menagerie when I was in Vietnam! His girls were dressed up as Alice in Wonderland and a cortege of bi-pedal cards followed. There were several flouncy roulading girls in their semi-crinolines, insect-legged stilt walkers and lots and lots of people.


In fact, this year had more persons, more energy and more fun than last year’s which, to be sure, was the first celebration on such a scale for some time. Indeed, the only thing which last year’s Fornoli carnival had to its advantage were the wonderful representation of all the regions of Italy by girls wearing allegorical dresses. They could not be bettered this year at all. (see

The day was glorious with true spring sunshine and everyone there was very good-natured as a result.

In case you didn’t remember, the Italian word for carnival is “carnevale” which means “farewell to meat”. Indeed, we are now entering the season of Lent and, over a beer or two, at la Ruota bar my friends and I discussed what we would be giving up for this forthcoming season of penitence. I thought I might give up on drinking G & T’s but one girl had a brighter idea when she said she’d give up drinking water. Stick to the beer? Not a bad idea and one which was very much in evidence at my old school during the eighteenth century when, because of the perils of catching cholera by drinking the untreated water, all schoolboys were rationed a couple of pints of beer for their breaks. (Mind you, it was small beer.)

It’s these carnival occasion that bring everyone together, whatever their age and interests Ever more today in continuing crisis-ridden Italy some form of solidarity is needed between folk rather than a return to individual cells and thinking “I’m all right Jack”.

Long may the Fornoli carnival continue from year to year and long may the organisers receive every support from the people of Bagni di Lucca.


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