Il Bartoccio – different versions of this Perugian character can be seen throughout the city. This is our local Via dei Priori version.

This weekend marked the end of Carnevale celebrations in Perugia. For much of February there have been parties and parades, and it seems that each district, school, and club in Perugia had their own celebration. As with other festivals, like Epiphany, Perugia has its local traditions when it comes to Carnevale. People dress up, especially kids, but costumes are not elaborate (like in Venice) and there is a certain pride associated with the do-it-yourself look. In keeping with Umbria’s rustic image, the traditional Perugian ‘mask’ of Carnevale is Il Bartoccio, an old farmer from the Tiber River valley. Il Bartoccio appears in Umbrian literature as early as the 1600’s. He is “rozzo, ma sagace, gioviale e saggio” (“uncouth, but shrewd, jovial and wise”).
Il Bartoccio is credited with the first satirical attacks against the ruling classes. In the 1700’s his character was banned by the Vatican (Perugians were always at odds with the Papacy) but he was brought back after the Risorgimento (unification of Italy) in the 1860’s. Today he is considered a symbol of Perugia.
On Saturday, we had our chance to parade with Il Bartoccio as Jakob’s class celebrated Carnevale on the Via dei Priori.

The kids gathered in front of the Basilica of San Francesco Al Prato, at the bottom of the Via dei Priori. They were wearing costumes they had made in art class during the week:IMG_2310

Jakob is an Ood (from Dr. Who, for those of you who don’t know):


Jakob’s hand-made Ood costume.

First stop on the parade was the small piazza in front of the giornale stand where Pedar gets his local paper and Micah buys his My Little Pony figures. Here the kids met up with Il Bartoccio:


Everyone wanted to touch him (does it bring good luck, we wondered?) and get a photo, including Micah:


Micah and unidentified girl with Il Bartoccio

The man who runs the giornale stand saw a business opportunity and immediately started handing out magazines to the kids (to take full advantage of the content, you have to buy stickers and collect cards, etc.). Gender stereotypes are alive and well in Italy. The boys got copies of Calciatori (soccer players):


and the girls got Zampe (note the cute puppy dog on the cover):


From the lower part of Via dei Priori, the kids paraded up to Corso Vannucci.


Jakob’s class emerging from Via dei Priori onto Corso Vannucci.

Micah wanted to be in the front:


He also managed to insert himself into the group photo on the steps of the Palazzo dei Priori:


Sao Paolo celebrates Carnevale on the steps of the Palazzo dei Priori. Micah is in the front (in his red Don Bosco jacket), Jakob is two kids behind him.

After the parents (and teachers) got their photo op, the kids went back down Via dei Priori and back to school. Micah was sad to see it end…


Micah waves goodbye

until…we got to celebrate again at Don Bosco on Saturday evening. The coaches and staff set up the gym and kept the kids busy for hours with various games, most of which seemed to involve balloons. The parents stood around the buffet table. Jakob went as the Liverpool striker Luis Suarez:


Micah was Batman (wearing pajamas that are two sizes too small):


(N.B. This is not the Don Bosco gym, but the pizzeria we went to afterwards. Micah is still wearing his costume. He ate an entire hamburger in about two minutes. He slept really well last night.)