Every Italian city in February is crowded by masks, confetti, lights and colors for a special festival: the Carnival. A celebration of ancient origins that today has become a folkloristic event, combinining tradition and fun into unique shows.
In Italy there are many historical Carnivals: each of them is characterized by specific masks and allegorical celebrations linked to their territory and traditions. Also in Le Marche there are many towns that celebrate the Carnival in a unique way keeping alive a tradition passed down through the centuries. Among them, the Carnival of Fano, the oldest in Italy (find out more about it in our old post here)
Today I would like to talk about another celebration taking place in the ancient village of Offida, amongst our most beautiful hamlet in our country, thanks to its beautiful old town protected by castle walls built in the fifteenth century.
Here the Carnival is celebrated in a very unique way that can’t be found in other cities. In fact, the inhabitants of Offida have always considered their traditions so special to keep them alive over the years until today. Amongst them, also the bobbin lace making: a precious lace skilfully made through the mix of cotton yarns whose design is pinned by pins on a pillow (the so called ‘tombolo’). When visiting Offida you’ll notice the beauty of these elegant lace on the windows of several houses in town.
In Offida you won’t just see the usual parade and masks, but a completely different and charming festivity! The most ‘important’ day is the Good Friday, dedicated to the so called “Lu Bov Fint” (aka: the fake ox).
This sort of ‘ox-puppet’ is guided through the narrow streets of Offida by men dressed in the so called “lu guazzarò”, a white jacket with red stripes dating back to the tradition. The ox used to be true until the early part of the nineteenth century. Today it is made of an iron and wood framework covered with a cloth, while the only real thing it has maintained are its horns!
Hundreds of people will chase the ox to the main square of the old town, before its symbolic sacrifice at sunset.
The final day of the Carnival occurs on the Shrove Tuesday, the day when another unusual and spectacular ceremony takes palce: the “Vlurd”.
Masked men and women in a procession through the streets of the village will carry large bundles of burning reeds and, between screams and wild dances, they flood once again the main square and create together one big and spectacular bonfire that marks the beginning of the Lent. This year “Lu bov fint” will take place on Friday, February 5, while the procession of the “Vlurd” will be celebrated on Tuesday, February 9.
During the Offida Carnival you can also enjoy the so called “Veglionissimi” in the splendid setting of the ‘Serpente Aureo’ Theatre on Saturday, Sunday and Monday: a big masquerade party, with music and lots of fun!
If you find yourself in Offida over the days the Carnival, you will get involved by these and many other traditional events. An authentic folk festival where, laying aside any rule or social convention, having fun is a must, and you’ll become the actors of representations whose symbolic value is handed down over the centuries until today!
Special thanks to the ProLoco (Tourism office) of Offida for their kind collaboration!