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February 12, 2013 / TAB

Carnevale 2013- Pont Saint Martin

     After a couple of years visiting places with Easter related events, I decided to add Carnevale (Mardi Gras) to the mix. I lived in New Orleans for several years and Mardi Gras was always fun, exciting, and exhausting. Putting the trip calendar together, I found events in two places I recently visited and wanted to return to. So that was an easy decision. 

      Pont Saint Martin and Ivrea are both on the Via Francigena and were stopping points for me on my last research trip. Pont Saint Martin is in the Aosta Valley and its neighbor, Ivrea, is in the Piedmont region.

       Traditional events in Pont Saint Martin include the hanging of a devil puppet from the ancient Roman bridge, choosing the main characters to represent various players (the Devil, San Martino, Lily Nymph, Roman consul, guards, Tribunes, etc), parades, balls, hanging of the insulae banners, races, and a bean and sausage lunch. I decided to arrive in time for the race day. A plan that was challenged on several fronts. First, my flights were changed 6 times in the 2 days before my scheduled departure and I ended up arriving a day later than planned. Then on the morning on the 3.5 hour drive to Pont Saint Martin, I woke to snow. Should I continue with my plans or should I stay in my nice warm bed…

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      Well, driving in snow in not unusual for me but I have a 4 WD. I wasn’t sure of my rental car’s “winter” tires but I did have the required chains. I also know that snow can be regional and there was no telling what was going on up the road. Also the forecast for the region didn’t show snow for the next two days. Leaving Lucca was a little scary since the streets hadn’t been plowed yet but once on the autostrada things were better. Both plows and salt trucks had been out. Light snow turned to rain which is no trick to drive in so I made good time until Genova. There the snow was heavier and the roads trickier. At one point I thought I would have to refresh my memory of chain installation. Fortunately, a line was forming behind 3 snow plows and I fell in behind the crowd for a slow but clear path.

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     I found my hotel quickly and checked in, grabbed lunch, and headed out for the parade. Insulae banners were strung between buildings. I was in the San Rocca insula whose symbol is the wolf and colors are purple and white. It was meant to be.

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      Unfortunately for me but better for the participants, the chariot and Roman races had been cancelled. The light snow had made the roads slick and dangerous for the racers. Instead, the various neighborhoods (insulae) gathered in front of the town hall for the presentation of this year’s winner, the Vicus Colubris. 

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      A walk to the Roman bridge to spend some time with the Devil finished off a very long day.

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I like his clogs.

     The light snow frosted the hillside vineyards and trees.

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Even some dead planters wore decorations.

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The finale of the Carnevale celebration is a torchlight parade with the torches going over the Roman bridge and down to the Devil. The square becomes packed with people pushing and shoving their way to see what they can see. For me, that meant other peoples heads and backs. The crowds will push in to any little space so the idea is to get real friendly with your neighbors.

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While the Devil is burning, there is a fireworks show timed to music and becomes more intense as the flames get higher. There was so much smoke that getting good firework shots was difficult.

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In the end, the Devil had made a complete ash of himself. 

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The morning after

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One Comment

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  1. Paula / Feb 12 2013 6:44 pm

    A great report of the events!! Your photography is spectacular!

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