Carnevale Muggia – 61st Edition

Muggia is across the bay from Trieste.  It has a small port with a  marina and a historic city centre.  The piazza is dominated by a   Campanile and as all central piazzas has a church and the municipal buildings.  On the ochre colored municipal building you can see a Venetian lion.  The town has small winding streets that go up to the castle on the hilltop.   More about Muggia in another blog!  The carnevale in Muggia is one of the oldest in this region.  Different “compagnia” work all year at creating the themes, floats and costumes.  Some of the “compagnia” are Trottola, Ongia, Lampo, Mandrioi, X, Belleza Naturali, Bulli Pupe,  Bora, La Brivida.  It is kind of like the Samba Schools in the Rio Carnevale.  Of course all year long there are also festa, parties for all.  Brivido won this  years’s top prize.  They were the last group to march.  You will see in the pictures that their theme was birds.  The costumes were colourful and shiny and rustled with the movement of marching and dancing.  Really exceptional and even more exceptional because I have never seen a Carnevale.

The compagnia Trottola (which translates as spinning top)  started up by a group of young people in 1968 and comes from the expression ” Tu mi fai girar come fossi una trottola”.  Trottola lead off at 1:30 and their theme was The Amazon River – Dreams of Nature.  It was divided into three themes each  representing one of the three elements- Earth, Water and AIr. Air was represented by people in bird costumes,  parrots, hummingbirds, butterflies. Earth by animals like armadillos, ants, scorpions.  Water by crocodiles, pirhannas, and snakes (anaconde).  The float was allegorical – a serpent and caterpillar symbolising the triumph of nature over the interests of foreign capitalism.  I read all of this in the newspaper today.  As a first time spectator  and not being conversant with the Italian issues of the day,  my reaction was one of  the pure enjoyment of the spectacle and the significance of what was being portrayed went right over my head. Although I must admit that my very knowledgeable guide did explain to me beforehand that the themes would be allegorical and that I did not grasp the concept of allegory and floats.

The compagnia Ongia founded in 1939 celebrated its 75th anniversary – In the Jungle- Inte la giungla.  They are the only compagnia that has participated in every single Carnevale Muggesano.  Their float was a giant birthday cake with 75 candles and a lion – the king of the jungle on top. The lion is not only the mascot  of the compagnia but also the emblem of Muggia. Their theme represented the protection of nature and there were monkeys, tucans, dancing to the music of their marching band- Bandorchestra Ongia.  And out of the jungle came lemmings, butterflies, a tribute to the indigenous population and to the jungle flora. There was also a representation of an African explorer in a stew pot being stirred by man eating jungle people. The float had giant man eating plants which was an allegory of nature stronger than  “civilized” man and technology!

La Compagnia Mandrioi portrayed the end of the world. Their float showed the riders of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and was undeniably huge and scary. Music from The Phantom of the Opera and white smoke billowed out from the float.

The compagnnia Lampo was a tribute to the discovery of the wheel (A ruota Libera) which revolutionized la vita dell’uomo.   “Il Gruppo di amici Lampo” was founded in 1955 by a group of young people from Santa Barbara and named after one  of its founders who apparently was a man of the world and bore the nickname Lampo. The characters portrayed the long path in the evolution of the wheel from stone to the iron wheels  of the Orient Express to a Ferrari pit stop change of tires.  The marching band was la Filarmonica di Santa Barbera.  They were dressed in blue mechanic  overalls with the logos of tire companies but spelled wrong like in knock off sunglasses – Bridgesone and not Bridgestone for example. And then there were the wheels made by Mother Nature – the float was a large peacock (pavone) with its tail feathers in full circular splendor.

La Compagnia Bulli e Pupe represented all of the fantastic creatures and characters from  that people are afraid of.  One theme was the creatures from children’s nightmares. The characters wore costumes that were children’s bedroom dressers and the drawers opened up and scary hand puppets emerged from the drawers.  It moved on to zombies dancing to Thriller music and vampires looking for victims to feed on. This is the 60th anniversary of this Compagnia.  Their float was Ghost Buster themed chasing away the scary monsters.

La Bora presented all kinds of insects.  Dancing ants, scarabs, giant bugs rolling their giant eggs filled with little children.  All of the groups had strollers all decorated in the theme of the compagnia and in the strollers were tiny angelic looking babies fast asleep.  Unbelievable how they could sleep with the loud music blaring all around. The float was a giant queen bee.

La Compagnia Brivida had as it theme “Uccelini…ucellaci” named after an Italian movie and means little birds and big birds but the diminutive uccelini is much prettier than just saying little bird. The birds represented contemporary society in all its beauty, goodness, and not so good.

It  started about 13:30 and lasted for 3 hours.  There were marching bands, floats and lots of participants.  What was great was that there were people of all age groups as participants.  “Il Piccolo” estimated the number of spectators at ten thousand.  What was also great was that spectators were also all dressed up from babies, to dogs to adults.  And you see people in costume all week long.  Children get big bags of confetti and streamers that they throw into the air.  But mostly they seem to enjoy sweeping them up with balloons, their pirate swords, spears.  When the parade ends people spill out into the piazza, the streets and to the small midway.  And everywhere the restaurants have set up outdoor tables and ‘bars’ with panini and drinks.  We had a brule (hot mulled wine) standing at the bar.  Really nice because even though it was not cold by Ottawa standards 8C and overcast after 3 hours of standing the vin brule went down very nicely!

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