Papa del gnocco and Verona’s carnevale

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Tis the season of carnevale events in Italy, so Friday, on what is called Venerdi Gnocolar, we spent the afternoon in Verona, checking out their carnevale parade. That took place over four hours. Four! But actually we only watched for two. The parade is enormous and winds its way through the city from piazza Bra to piazza San Zeno. The highlight was definitely Papa del gnocco, who is the king of the parade and who gets to ride on a mule carrying a giant fork with a giant piece of gnocchi. Best. Apparently there is a committee who vote each year to decide who gets to be the papa, I would love to know their criteria!

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There were around 90 groups taking part in the parade, of which we saw less than half, as we didn’t realise just how long it was. When we left our spot in Piazza Bra near the start of the parade we thought it was close to the end. Nope.

The parade ends in Piazza San Zeno where everyone eats bowls of gnocchi. The story goes that in the 1500s, a famine had created a hungry populace. Some wealthier society members donated food to avert a riot, and the feast on the Friday before lent has continued ever since. Thus creating giving the reason for the gnocchi and the Papa. I’m pretty sure I’m missing some history here, the translation on the site I was reading really wasn’t the best. We also joined in the gnocchi eating, and may have inadvertently eaten donkey. But we also had some with a harmless tomato sauce:

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Matt del gnocco. Maybe next year.

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Some of the groups taking part in the rest of the parade were also a little interesting. One of my favorites was a large group of women dressed as sparkly housewives (apron, yellow rubber gloves and feather duster included) dancing to the pumping club music coming from this float:

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There was also many a majorette group – similar to New Zealand’s marching girls, but with batons and occasionally more underwear on display – brass band and renaissance clothed participant. All watched by kids dressed in costume who were flinging confetti everywhere. We were across the road from a particularly obnoxious group, who were calling loudly for candy with their hands stuck out to everyone in the parade, then throwing confetti in the face of those who didn’t come up with the goods. The confetti was everywhere, everyone was carrying supermarket bags full of the stuff, and I had to empty my hood of small papery bits before we got on the train. I even found a piece with a kiwi fruit on it (tiny, right in the middle):

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