The carnival in Acireale is a celebration with a propitiatory role for the change in the cycle of the seasons. It is also the turning point before fasting and restrictions that characterise the following Lent period which leads up to Good Friday. The Acireale’s carnival dates back to the middle of the sixteenth century and its celebration is attested in the following century. Paper mache floats were added to the parade at the end of the nineteenth century. The carnival period is characterised by the subversion of the social order: the poorer classes can dress up to disguise their identities, mock the noblemen and experience a certain opulence by eating meat and drinking wine.

Allegorical floats of various kinds parade through the streets of Acireal. Satirical floats aim to mock political and social events, making fun of public people and particular events with a liberating purpose. Today these characteristics are still alive and are paired by a special attention to the quality of the handcrafted allegories. Craftsmen prepare the floats with great skill and different materials: paper mache and flowers are the protagonists of these handcrafts. The artistic flair of the artisans can also be found in the masks that decorate the streets throughout the carnival period and follow the floats during the parade.

The first mask that we know is the one of Abbatazzu. In the twelfth century the abbatazzu’s mask used to carry a book from which he was reading, or pretending to read, invectives against nobles and famous people. In the following centuries several other masks were created and other characters joined Abbatazzu with the same aims: mocking aristocrats and disguising who was behind the mask. Today the carnival in Acireale is a great collective celebration and a visibility event for the town. Yards involved in making the floats are highly specialised and there is a competition with prizes for floats and masks. Nowadays floats are exhibited during the whole summer to allow tourists to enjoy them.


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REI - Libro delle Celebrazioni - Carnevale Acireale (last visited 08/07/ 2022)
Carnevale Acireale (last visited 08/07/2022)
Comune Acireale (last visited 08/07/2022)
Fondazione Carnevale Acireale (last visited 08/07/2022)