The Schignano Carnival in the green Val d’Intelvi, a few minutes from Lake Como, which still maintains the ancient character of an event of medieval origins and which is characterized by the splendid wooden masks, is divided into various manifestations that take place in various moments between January and February.
These periods correspond to the traditional feasts of past centuries with which the emigrants, the heads of families, destined to leave for distant lands and return home only at the end of November, were greeted in great style.
There is a saying that reads: “To Saint Andrew, the executioner, can vegn a cùc i maestràn” and Sant ‘Andrea falls precisely on November 30th.
The Schignano Carnival begins on January 5 as soon as the Vegèta ends, the feast of neo-eighteen-year-olds who, to celebrate their coming of age, go around the streets of the village until late at night. At midnight that evening, at the height of the dances, the first Bei and Brut arrive to officially start the Carnival party.
The Carlisep, a puppet that has the features of a young man and that symbolizes the Carnival (the desire to “carouse”) is placed in the main square of the village and will remain inanimate until the last day before Lent, Mardi Gras, when, realizing that the party is about to end, he will try to escape. At this juncture the Carlisep comes to life, personified by one of the young people of Vegeta and is captured by his other conscripts who carry it in procession to the square on a ladder like a stretcher.
At this point the Carlisep returns to being a puppet and will be burned at the burning of midnight on Shrove Tuesday – he is condemned to the stake because he would like the Carnival to never end. In support of this little theater, the streets of the town are crossed, the days before, by the inhabitants of the town with particular clothes and wooden masks that recall the typical characters of the peasant past: there are the Mascaruns, the Bei that represent the rich, who they show off in their sumptuous and almost ridiculous dresses decorated with the strangest and most flashy trinkets, with the round and well-made bump (butasc) and then there are the Brut, the emigrants, who go around with the basket, with the broom or with the suitcase, with malfunctioning or useless tools, and the baggy belly. Bei and Brut cannot speak, but they make themselves heard because they run with bells from the sounds that identify them: the Bei have, tied to life, the Bronze, with the Argentine sound, which are the ones that had the animals in the pasture, while the Brut have only the Cioche, deaf and not so pleasant bells.
The only one to have the right to speak is Ciocia, the wife of the rich man, who uses his tongue only to complain about her husband, continually scolding, and has the features of a witch: apron, clogs, head scarf, rock and spindle to spin the wool.
Other characters are the Sapor, sappers who represent the first inhabitants of the valley, who lead the procession with gendarmes, dressed in sheepskins and a thick white beard, and the Sigurta, with a cape and military hat that guarantees for all the characters that turn into disguises. The Schignano Carnival is a centuries-old representation, deeply felt by the inhabitants of the town and capable of giving a unique experience to those who choose to participate in the parades held on Sunday (Children’s Carnival), this year held last Sunday 4 February, Saturday 10 February and Tuesday 13 February until late at night. With its colors, sounds and flavors, Schignano can be a wonderful destination for a trip to Valle d’Intelvi for the Carnival.