Today is Fat Tuesday. There is music and confetti in the streets; people dress up in masks and costumes; and the bakeries are full of fried desserts. But it doesn’t last just one day. This is the season of Carnevale. The word comes from “carne” meaning “meat” and “vale” meaning “allowed.” It use to be that Catholics abstained from eating meat during Lent. Carnevale is the period before – where nothing is denied.
The big celebrations started nearly a week ago on Giovedì Grasso (Fat Thursday) with parties and parades. During the weekend, the festivities culminated as several neighborhoods decorated their streets, set up stages and hosted parties for the city that ran late into the night.
We have a group of friends in Perugia who invited us to their 5th-grade class party on Saturday. All of their children attend the same school, and Signora Paola (our kids’ tutor) is the teacher. The parents rented a room at the community center, and everyone brought food. As students and parents entered, they were bombarded with handfuls of confetti by the others.
This morning we bought a little of everything, just in case sweets grow scarse during Lent. Some of the traditional Carnevale desserts include frappe, brighelle and strufoli.