The snow boat – a Carnevale ogni scherzo vale

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The celebrations for carnival more or less finished this week end with parties for the children (article here) and then later on in the evening, a larger event for the adults outside on the Fosso (article here) .

Fun was had by all but the cold weather meant that only the very hardy were still partying late in the evening and with today’s heavy snow fall which brought traffic to a standstill, you would have thought that any form of “messing about” would have been very unlikely.

But instead, once again on the Fosso this evening just as dusk was falling (along with with the snow) it would appear that the concept of “a Carnevale ogni scherzo vale – at Carnival, anything goes!” was alive and well.

An inflatable boat was being towed behind a car, slipping and sliding across the snow with two inhabitants of Barga attempting to stay on board – ship shape and Bristol fashion*.

What the local police thought of this nautical action is unknown at the moment.

The video as at the end of this article.

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Carnival takes place the forty days prior to Easter and is meant to be a time to indulge in all of the things that one will be deprived of during the restriction of Holy Lent. The celebration ends on ShroveTuesday when everyone gorges themselves with tasty treats in preparation for the long period of fasting starting on Ash Wednesday. Often ‘Carnevale’ is linked to the Italian ‘carne levare’, which means ‘to remove meat’ and is fitting, although the origin of the word is often disputed.

For centuries there have been parades, dances, and masquerade balls in Italy to mark the occasion. One of the oldest extant documents regarding the use of masks in Venice dates to May 2, 1268, when the citizens where banned from playing a certain game while wearing masks. Nowadays children pelt each other with coriandoli (confetti) and spray silly string, adults attend lavish costume balls, and towns such as Viareggio have a series of parades with spectacular papier–mâché floats. Mischief and pranks are part of the festivites, which is the reason behind the phrase A Carnevale ogni scherzo vale — Anything goes at Carnival.

*’Ship-shape and Bristol fashion’ isn’t widely used outside the UK and even there less so than in earlier times, so a little background may be in order.

Bristol has been an important English seaport for more than a thousand years. The city is actually several miles from the sea and stands on the estuary of the River Avon. Bristol’s habour has one of the most variable tidal flows anywhere in the world and the water level can vary by more than 30 feet between tides. Ships that were moored there were beached at each low tide. Consequently they had to be of sturdy construction and the goods in their holds needed to be securely stowed. The problem was resolved in 1803 with the construction of the Floating Harbour. There’s no absolute proof that the term ‘Bristol fashion’ originates with that geography but the circumstantial evidence seems very strongly in favour of it. – source

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