John Bensalhia enters the carnival season of the year, along with festivals that celebrate everything from chocolate to boats
It's carnival time, and while I've chosen three distinctive events of this kind, let's not forget some of the other great festivals taking place. Those seeking a great Valentine's Day gift for their partner should get some inspiration by a couple of events in this month's selection, while for outdoors fans, there are two fantastic exhibitions devoted to boats and bikes, respectively.
So let's get moving with...
NauticSud International Boat Show
Naples, 8th - 16th February 2020
More than 800 boats will be shown at the 47th edition of the NauticSud International Boat Show. All kinds of boats will be showcased including yachts, rafts and motorboats.
Sail on over to Mostra d’Oltremare in Naples, where those who love messing about in boats will find much to enjoy this show. As well as the wide showcase of boats and vessels, visitors can enjoy a broad spectrum of talks and conferences. There are also special prizes to be handed out with the annual NauticSud awards and the awarding of the Campania Committee of the Italian Sailing Federation. Entry costs € 10.00, although school parties can get in for € 6.00. Kids under 12 will get a free gift, while disabled visitors will be allowed a reduced admission fee of € 6.
Terni, 13th - 16th February 2020.
With Valentine's Day happening this year, you'll be thinking about some romantic treats for your partner. What better than a day out to Cioccolentino? This is an event that puts the sweet into 'sweetheart'. It's packed full of chocolate and sweet-related tastings and themes. With the Valentine's Day theme in mind, there's a special competition to come up with the ultimate Love Cake design. There are also chances to sample the local chocolate specialities, through tastings. There's food for thought, too, with themed workshops, seminars, and also insights into the various methods and traditions of making Italian chocolates and pastries.
It's not just for adults – kids will enjoy the workshops made for them too, and they'll love the chocolates and sweets to try!
Verona, 15th - 16th February 2020
We've had boats, and now it's the turn of bikes to take centre stage.The CosmoBike Show is a fantastic bike exhibition that displays the newest, the biggest and the best bikes from both Italy and around the world. As well as ordinary bicycles, there's a massive choice of bikes on display: electric bikes, racing bikes, special snow bikes... It's a show that caters to all audiences, whether it's a kid looking to ride his or her first bike or an expert. As well as the displayed bikes, visitors can meet some champion bike riders, discover the history of the bicycle, and meet fellow cyclists too! The event takes place in VeronaFiere, and promises to be a great weekend full of cycle life.
Florence, February 16th
Wine lovers will enjoy the bevy of previews currently on around Italy. In the city of Florence Chianti Lovers returns to Florence for Sunday 16 February 2020, taking place under the Cavaniglia Pavilion in the Fortezza da Basso. For the occasion, the exhibition space will be transformed into a temple to wine, with the presentation and tasting of the new Chianti D.O.C.G. 2019 and Riserva 2017, to be released this year. From 4pm onwards Chianti Lovers will throw open its doors to all enthusiasts.
The Walking Forest
Potenza, 22nd - 23rd February 2020
With carnival season underway, this is one of the most curious events. Part of the Satriano Carnival, The Walking Forest sees men dress up as trees. Clad in ivy leaves and complete with a stick of frùscio, the walking forest men (Rumitas) make their way through the local streets to knock on doors. Using the frùscio to knock, this tradition is said to bring good fortune. To be precise, the walking forest traditionally comprises 131 Rumitas, equating with the 131 towns of Basilicata. However, anyone can dress up as a tree – it's carnival season, so anything goes! It's a fun way of communicating a worthy message about helping the environment – and with today's headlines including the likes of climate change gracing TVs, newspapers and the internet, the more awareness spread about the environment, the better.
Historical Carnival in Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses
23rd - 25th February 2020
The colour and the splendour of the Italian carnival can also bring a vivid period of history back to life. Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses' carnival is a case in point, as it recalls the year of 1800. In the May of that year, Napoleon led around 60,000 men through the mountain of San Bernardo in the area of Val d'Aosta. The army was said to have alarmed the locals of the valley – to such a degree that this vivid sight prompted the parade which continues today.
The parade includes a long and varied role call of participants, initiated, of course, by the Napoleon character leading the way on horseback. These include the musical Joueurs, the caped devils, and the Demoiselles and Arlequins. A notable aspect of the carnival is the mask parade, which symbolically waves goodbye to the dark Winter days and says hello to the Spring. Black clad and masked characters are driven away by the white masked characters, who represent the Spring season taking over from Winter. A variety of colours are ushered in, including blue, red, green, pink and violet, with distinctive costumes and hat mirrors designed to catch the rays of the sun in order to banish the clouds away for a good few months.
Historical Carnival of Frosinone & The Feast of Ràdeca
25th February 2020
This is a carnival event that offers two for the price of one. As well as the Historical Carnival of Frosinone, the festivities continue with the Feast of Ràdeca, an event that goes way back in the mists of time to even before the Christian era. Linked with the pagan era's rituals of fertility, February is regarded as the month in which this event takes place – in the Roman age, the Feast would be honoured to the god invoked in the protection of fertility: Luperco, whose sacred day would traditionally occur on 15th February. Meanwhile, the Historical Carnival has roots dating back to the late 18th century, when the citizens rebelled against the French troops. The symbolic burning of the King Carnival puppet relates to French general General Jean Antoine Étienne Vachier – also known as Championnet.