I Love Touring Italy - Sicily Carnival Season 2014

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Acireale, a city of about 50 thousand, is located approximately fifty miles (eighty kilometers) north of Siracusa on the eastern coastline facing the Ionian Sea. This coast is called the Riviera dei Cilopi; according to Homer's Odyssey it was created when the blinded Cyclops Polyphemus flung boulders at the retreating Ulysses, creating spectacular rock pillars called faraglioni. This great site hosts what is widely considered to be Sicily's finest Carnevale, one of the few that can compete with Venice's world-class offering.

Carnivale is thought to originate in the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia, which honored the god Saturn in the hope of a rich harvest. Masked revelers, far too often drunk, feasted, partied, and paraded with allegorical floats through the town. Similar festivals were held in ancient Greece to honor Dionysus, the god of wine. However, the word Carnevale itself is said to come from Carnem levare, which means take away the meat, referring to the 40 days of Lent in which the faithful would eat no meat.

Allegorical floats have been an important component of Carnevale for hundreds of years. They first appeared in Sicily over four hundred years ago. But they only came to Acireale around 1880. And this Carnevale has been trying to make up for lost time ever since. As in so many other Carnivals, papier mache is a major component of the floats. Satirical masks are also featured. Even if you can't tell who is being mocked out, you will enjoy them. Of course, in many cases you won't have any trouble identifying the "victim." Talking about victims, Carnevale onlookers were once pelted with eggs and other projectiles. Today they are much more likely to be hit with confetti or sprayed with aerosols.

In 2014 the Acireale Carnevale will start on Saturday, Februay 15th and run until Tuesday, March 4th, Mardi Gras. You can find many events for children such as Bambini in Maschera, a children's costume competition. At first events are held on the weekends only but later on there is at least one daytime and one evening event daily. After an awards ceremony Carnevale comes to an end with fireworks and the burning of King Carnival.

Acireale is not the only city in Sicily to have its Carnevale. Other manifestations occur in Palermo, the coastal capital situated on the northern coast whose Carnevale introduced papier mache floats to Sicily in the town of Sciacca on the southwestern coast whose Carnevale is known for its bizarre floats, in Termini Imerese on the northern coast, and in Palazzolo Acreide west of Siracusa. Why not visit several and compare? Wherever you go, whatever you do, make sure to taste some fine Sicilian wine.

About the Author:

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but prefers Italian travel and drinking fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods and people. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his Italian travel website http://www.travelitalytravel.com which includes an expanded version of this article and lots more.

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