🇮🇹 Verona Carnival

We have to go back to the late Middle Ages to find the origins of the Carnival of Verona, whose original name is Bacanal del Gnoco.

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    What is the Carnival of Verona?

    verona carnival

    There are several days of parades during the Carnival of Verona, but the day that you cannot miss is the Papa del Gnoco parade or Venerdi Gnocolar, which is the most impressive day with the best costumes and the most floats.

    Just after midday this huge parade starts out from corso Porta Nuova, and it actually sets out around 2:00 PM.

    Nearly seventy floats march through the streets of Verona with a wide variety of themes and fantasies.  Almost all the floats must be made from papier-mâché, and all the artisans responsible for making them put their heart and soul into the endeavor.

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    How is Carnival celebrated in Verona?

    verona carnival

    The Carnival of Verona takes place in every neighborhood around the city, each of which has their own mask, invented or inspired by a historical figure or profession. The most important and oldest mask from the Carnival of Verona is the Papa del Gnoco. It is celebrated on the Friday of Carnival and coincides with the biggest expression of Carnival, the float parade passing through the city.

    The Papa del Gnoco is elected every year, and many men stand for this honor and strive to gain recognition, but only one will be chosen. El Papa del Gnoco is the King of Carnival and everything revolves around this historic figure.

    To liven up these moving sculptures, the floats are accompanied by dancers and people from the same Carnival group dressed up according to the theme of the float. It is a very entertaining Carnival, and if you don’t recognize the theme for any of the costumes or floats, we recommend asking someone nearby as they will be sure to help you, especially during Carnival.

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    Related: Venice Carnival

    When is Carnival celebrated in Verona in 2024?

    verona carnival

    The Carnival of Verona in 2023 takes place from Thursday the 8th till Tuesday the 16th of February, 2024. One of the longest-lived Carnivals of Europe, every year this city transforms into a Disneyland of debauchery, so much so that this Carnival is known as the Bacanal del Gnoco.

    Related: Viareggio Carnival

    History of Carnival in Verona

    verona carnival

    There are many conflicting versions. According to records written by Girolamo Dalla Corte, there were devastating floods between 1520 and 1531, in addition to raids by the Landsknechts of Charles V, who fought against Francis I of France, all of which left the city poorer than it had ever been before.

    This affected all manner of trades and guilds, including the ‘pistori’ bakers, who were forced to increase the price of the bread they produced. Shortly after, in the face of the poor economy and the lack of demand due to the increase in prices, the bakers decided to stop production.

    On June 18th, 1531, in San Zeno the people revolted against the bakers, who clearly had wheat and bread even while the people were going hungry.

    This revolt could have spiraled out of control, but thanks to the intervention of some more affluent citizens, peace was restored when some benevolent citizens, who had more resources than the rest, made a larger contribution and shared their food with the people. Among them was Da Vico, the ‘professor and restorer’ of this event called the ‘Baccanale del Gnocco‘, who voluntarily passed out all the essential food supplies he could get his hands on.

    According to other sources, the origins of Carnival in Verona started with the oldest ‘Festa di tutto il Popolo‘, established in 1208 by the famous Ezzelino da Romano in celebration of the Ghibelline victory over the Guelphs, who were brutally repelled by San Bernadine in Verona.

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    Another possibility is that the Carnival of Verona dates back to the times of Cangrande della Scala (the most important lord of Verona) in the 13th century. Each year on the anniversary of the transfer of San Zeno’s body, a large festival was held by traders (including foreigners) outside the basilica of San Zeno with singing, dancing, and theater plays for the commoners, adventurers, and nobility. This could have evolved into what we know today as the Carnival of Verona.

    Any of these accounts will do, but what we are certain of is that this Carnival is full of history and plenty of adventures in its past.

    Related: Ivrea Carnival

    The Masks of the Carnival of Verona

    verona carnival

    To better understand the Carnival of Verona its masks will help you to figure out anything from what day it is to where you are located in the city at that moment. Below is a list of the masks from the Carnival of Verona:

    • Papa del Gnoco (Quartiere San Zeno): Created in 1531, this is the oldest Carnival mask in Italy. It is the King of Carnival of Verona and also marches in many other carnival celebrations in the province. Venerdi Gnocolar is its day (and also the day the float parade takes place in Verona).
    • Duca della Pignata (Quartiere S. Stefano): Since 1884 this party has been held on the last Monday of Carnival (the Luni Pignatàr or Monday of Carnival) which is held in Piazza S. Stefano (near the Ponte Pietra). The Dio de l’oro marches with him.
    • Prince Reboano of the concord (Quartiere Filippini): This is the mask from the historic quarter of the city, on the right bank of the Adigio. It is celebrated on the Saturday of Carnival week, which is the same day the historic regatta is held.
    • King Saltucchio and Queen Catalina (distrito de Porto San Pancrazio): Celebrated on Mardi Gras.
    • King Teodorico (Carega neighborhood and historic quarter).
    • The Baron of Sanzenetto and Cangrande della Scala (San Zeno neighborhood).
    • Simeón de l’Isolo (Veronetta neighborhood): In the historic quarter on the left bank of the Adigio, on the Monday of Carnival a parade marches through this neighborhood starting from la Piazza Santa Toscana.
    • El conte Polentón (Borgo I Maggio neighborhood).
    • Madonna Verona (Verona center): Represents the center of Verona, where you will find the eponymous statue with a fountain at the famous Piazza Erbe.
    • Fedrigo dal porto (San Zeno-Boscarèl neighborhood).
    • La parona de Parona (Parona neighborhood): Created in 1969 in the neighborhood where the ‘Festa de la Renga’ is traditionally celebrated on Ash Wednesday, polenta and salted herring are handed out here.
    • Maestro miller of the axis flour and the mill (Borgo Trento neighborhood).
    • Villotti’s lavender (Avesa district).
    • Attila – El barossiér la so dona (Quartiere Quinzano): the mask of Attila was created in 1982. The barossiér and la so dona represent the oldest trade in the area, that is, the wainwrights, who transported material extracted from the quarries in Quinzano.
    • L’Orlando Furioso e l’Angelica (Borgo Roma neighborhood).
    • King Goloso and Miss Golosine (Quartiere Golosine).
    • Duca della Pearà and la Duquesa (Indipendenza district – Santa Lucia): the pearà is a typical sauce from Verona served with boiled meats made from hard bread, stock and lots of pepper.
    • Castaldo de la Chioda (Chioda district– Madonna di Dossobuono).
    • King Sole (Borgo Milán district).
    • L’Aseneto (Saval neighborhood).
    • El sior della Spianà (stadium district).
    • ‘Gian Burrasca’ (Zona Bassón neighborhood).
    • El Torototela (Longhin area).
    • King magnarón (Montorio area).
    • La Bia, Bepo Patata y General Radecio (Sei Borghi-Borgo Venezia).
    • Mastro Sogàr (San Michele district).
    • Re dela Stanga (Croce Bianca district).
    • Scciapasoche de Arbissàn (Arbizzano).
    • La Donzelletta (Borgo Nuovo district).
    • Duca della Seola (Santa Croce district): In this area there was an old farm (the Ceolara or Seolara) near which onions were grown.
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    Related: Putignano Carnival 2023

    Papa del Gnoco

    verona carnival

    Papa del Gnoco is the maximum expression of Carnival of Verona. If you see lots of ‘Santa Clauses’ in Verona during Carnival, in fact what you are seeing is Papa del Gnoco, and there are plenty of differences. With an ivory and red king’s suit, a large hat and a trident in his hand, this costume has a lot of history behind it and is very carefully assembled.

    It takes at least half an hour to put on the costume, and from start to finish a master of ceremonies must be there to assist. To be Papa del Gnoco is a unique privilege in Verona and a huge responsibility, almost like being a superhero.  In fact, some people keep costumes from prior years in safes due to their high value and significant sentimental importance.

    The costumes are made by artists in Verona, but those who wear them do not get to keep them, they have to give them back as soon as Carnival is over.

    What to see and do in Verona?

    verona carnival

    • Wine Route Valpolicella: Italy is known for its wine, and with this guided tour you will have the unique opportunity to get to know this wine from grape to palate.  With two stops at wineries in the city you will also have the chance to taste the best local cuisine together with this exquisite wine.
    • Romeo and Juliet: Don’t let this walking tour of the greatest love story ever told pass you by. Historic monuments, medieval squares, and the famous balcony where Romeo declared his eternal love for Juliet.
    • Take the night tour: Verona is very romantic, and under the moonlight it’s even more so. Starting in Piazza Erbe, this tour covers the whole city and all its historic spots like Pozzo dell’Amore, la Porta Borsari and Castelvecchio, finishing up with the best bars in the city.
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    🇫🇷 The Menton Lemon Festival

    If you want to get some original ideas of what else you can see and do, Viator.com has plenty of options to help you make the most of your trip to Verona.

    Where to stay during the Carnival of Verona?

    verona carnival

    The Carnival of Verona is as old and beautiful as it is crowded. There are accommodations to suit every budget, but don’t wait too long, book your hotel, guest house or hostel soon because they fill up quickly on these dates.

    Here are some suggestions to make your stay even more enjoyable.

    • Hotel Romeo and Julieta: Located in the heart of Verona, this hotel is great for couples that want a more romantic experience in this Italian city.
    • Hotel Borghetti: Located in the north of Verona, this family-oriented, 3-star hotel is famous for its winery, so don’t miss this great opportunity to enjoy great Italian wine while you enjoy the Carnival of Verona.
    • Hotel Indigo Verona: Just 5 minutes from the historic city center of Verona, this hotel is located right in the heart of the action, but is also calm and peaceful place.

    If you want to explore more options for a place to stay, every possibility imaginable is available at booking.com

    Book your Hotel and Flight for the Verona Carnival

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    Carnivaland recommends tours, events and accommodation based on our extensive experience and knowledge of them. We may earn affiliate commission from affiliate links in this article. Read more about our policy.

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