February 19, 2007

That time of year... Carnevale.. quando ogni scherzo vale!

Carneval in Italy is a big deal, not just in Venice where the costumes are really "over the top" but in small villages too.

Florence has started a WORLD CARNEVAL, celebrating the large mixed cultures which now live here, quite a change from when I moved here in 1984, when the foreigners were the people from Naples and Sicily.

A huge Chinatown has been created outside the city, Iranians have been here for years, coming to study and then not going back when the problems with the Shah. Now Columbians, Peruvians,Maroccons, Albanians all mixed together.. sometimes setting each other off when late at night and alcohol is flowing, Florence has lost some of it's small town charm, by having been cut off from real world problems for so long.

This years parade united all in a huge celebration.
I not liking crowds, slipped out to one of my favorite hill towns, Siena.
We went as it was the third Sunday of the month when the flea market is held in the piazza behind the town hall.

Siena holds the feeling of what Tuscany was really like. All red brick, the town is full of small alleyways and picturesque corners to make any fotographer go crazy. The city recently rewired the town to provide cableTV and take away the ugly antenna's, look up when you are there.

view of the city, and the Torre del Mangia, from the San Marco gate

Close up of the fountain of the Contrada " ONDA"

Old street signs with older street signs underneath

The "tartaruga" tortoise, where the flea market is held the third Sunday of the month

old coffee grinders and spice grinders

Lunch of course was at our favorite La Torre...

only fresh pasta

I had my favorite, the fiocchi, spinach and ricotta tortelli with butter, sage and parmesan cheese... light as snowflakes on your tongue ( fiocchi are bows or also fiocchi di neve, snowflakes)

" fiochi" with butter, sage and parmesan
Andrea had mixed Pappardelle with ragu.

He had the roast lamb and I had wild boar.

wild boar

Both is us had the country-style potatoes in a rosemary infused tomato sauce.

And when I saw their tiramisu... I had to.. for the foto.. RIGHT? all in the name of blogging journalism.

tiramisu La Torre style

Then we saw him cut prosciutto by hand for a large table of locals that came in after us..
next time!

In the Piazza del Campo, the celebrations were just starting, but the piazza was already covered with confetti.
In villages Carnevale is mostly young kids running around with funny costumes, throwing confetti in your face.. or spraying you with silly string! Sort of their chance at halloween, but instead of going house to house, the festival takes to the streets.

The Passeggiata, begins after Sunday lunch from 4pm on, when the piazza's and streets fill with the locals, catching up on the weeks news.

We noticed a small wooden cabin set up at the end of the piazza, that means food to me!
I was right, one of the local fundraising groups had set-up their frittelle stand, rice fritters, one of Carnevale's sweets that will also be around for Father's day, March 17 ( Saint Joseph's Day, the dad of all dad's!)

Fritter fryer

I adore Rice fritters and always need to sample.
Their rice fritters were even better cold than hot.
With the sprinkling of granulated sugar,

sparkling like precious sweets that they are.


  1. great post! it made me hungry to come back...xx

  2. Love all of the pictures and descriptions of Siena! And the food - wow! It brings back such good memories of the 3 weeks I stayed there for language classes!

  3. Oh how I want to go back to Siena! I only spent half a day there in the pouring rain but it was still splendid. Thanks for the wonderful post.