In pursuit of the annual ‘Carnival Cup’, the little Tuscany town of Foiano della Chiana dusts off its centuries-old competitive spirit and splits into four rival ‘shipyards’.
A single, vast workshop houses four segments, in which each yard assembles its float. For this 473rd carnival, on every Sunday in February 2012, one of the entries will take its turn parading through Foiano’s tiny streets, to rapturous public reception.
The rivalry isn’t based on professional background, history or district, just on friendly competition between members of this energetically creative population. The results are amazing.
Even before the floats emerge, the atmosphere is alive with bands of musicians, drummers and accompanying dancers, together with teams of characters in enormous head-dresses, setting the theme for each yard’s entry.
Elaborately-costumed children caper in formation around the floats. On board, gigantic dragons and eerily lifelike towering human figures are brilliantly engineered to gesture and lunge suddenly forward and sideways, surprising the crowds.
The tone is often darkly comic, with mythology and modern culture represented. The year’s effort and imagination invested in these rolling works of art, enjoys brief but wholehearted recognition. On the final Sunday, the Carnival Cup is awarded to the jury’s favourite.
The town’s recent past and the year in prospect are the subject of a humorous speech, before Giacondo, spirit of the carnival, made from straw and rags, is burned for all the townspeople’s purification.
Quality Villas Italy can provide comfortable Tuscany holiday villas for visitors wishing to stay in the area for this atmospheric event.
More information about the Foiano della Chiana carnival can be found at http://www.carnevaledifoiano.it/.
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