Home Customized Faculty-Led Carnevale in Europe – A treat for Spring Students

Carnevale in Europe – A treat for Spring Students

by Sarah Plumley

Last Updated on August 18, 2023 by Cat Rogliano

Students on AIFS Customized, Faculty-Led programs during the spring semester have the opportunity to enjoy the spectacular Carnival events in Italy, France, or Spain.  For several weeks in February or early March, these countries celebrate rich cultural traditions unique to every location. All are tied to the Catholic season of Lent. We’re going to take a spin through the Carnevale through its vocabulary and varied traditions.  

La bauta (Venice, Italy) 

The Venetians dress in traditional 18th century costume featuring the bauta or ornate white papier mâché masks. Originally plain white with elongated curved noses, new variations of masks are gilded in gold, painted in glittery jewel colors or feathers. La colombina is a smaller mask that only covers the eyes and nose featuring long colorful ribbons.  Colombina’s are common souvenirs for students who have been lucky to visit Venice, even if they haven’t experienced Carnevale.

A colombina mask. Source: www.veneziamaschere.com
La comparsa (Cádiz, Spain) 

The gaditanos (natives of Cádiz) form groups of singers called comparsas who perform chirigotas (satirical folksongs) every year during Carnaval. The songs are commentary on society, national and international current events and are salacious, satirical and hilarious. Generally, the comparsas wear the same costumes and perform in unison accompanied by guitar and drum. You can watch the winning performance of 2020, by “La Colonial”, here.

“La Colonial” choir, the winners of the 2020 Cadiz Carnaval Comparsas. Source: diariosur.es
La Bataille de fleurs (Nice, France)

This famous flower parade dates back to 1876. Floats covered in fragrant flowers parade down the Promenade des Anglais along the Mediterranean Sea, while young women seated on top throw petals and streamers on the crowd.  

Bataille des Fleurs, 2009. Source: Zil, c/o Wikimedia Commons
Fritole veneziane (Venice, Italy)

Sugar dusted doughnuts flavored with rum and lemon zest, pine nuts, raisins and zabaglione or custard. You can find an easy-to-follow recipe on the Italy Magazine website; with some basic ingredients and a couple of hours, you can enjoy the taste of Carnevale in your own home!  

Fritole Veneziane. Source: Italy Magazine
La mugnaia (Ivrea, Italy)

The miller’s daughter, protagonist of the city’s famous Battle of the Oranges. Every year in Carnavale, the aranceri (orange handlers) on foot engage in an orange throwing battle with the aranceri riding in carts. The battle reenacts the 13th century rebellion against the city’s tyrant ruler when he kidnapped the young woman on her wedding day.  You can find some great images from 2020 over on the BBC website

Oranges are thrown into the crowd from carts that pass through the square. Source: BBC Pictures / Andrea Capello

Studying abroad during the spring semester gives students and faculty the chance to immerse themselves and live these festivals like a local. For more information on planning your Customized, Faculty-Led program visit our website www.aifscustomized.com or email us at customizedfacultyled@aifs.com 

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