Carnival of Schignano, the programme of the event 2018

Between January and February of every year, in Schignano in the province of Como, from the afternoon until all hours of the night, there is a characteristic Carnival that  dates back to time immemorial.

Schignano is a small village in the Val d’Intelvi, in the province of Como, where every year the most original and entertaining Carnival party takes place, thanks to the passion of its inhabitantss.

The Carnival of Schignano is divided into several events that take place at various times between January and February, which correspond to the traditional festivals of the past centuries  around the emigrants. These are lands of emigrants, men above all, the head of the families,  who worked hard to support their family, and they were constricted to leave home during the spring and to come back only during winter,  at the end of November. There is a saying that reads: At Sant’Andrea, boia i can, vegn a cà tùc i maestràn “- and Sant’Andrea falls on November 30th.
Festivities related to the superstitious greeting, similar in nature, of ancient heritage, are those related to the Rogo della Giubiana in the area of Varese and Como. Also some frescoes by Arcumeggia refer to this custom.

Gallery of photographs of the Carnival of Schignano taken by Paolo Andreani

Carnevale di Schignano - foto di Paolo Andreani

When the Vegèta ends, the Carnival begins

The Carnival of Schignano begins January 5 as soon as the Vegèta ends, the festival of the eighteen-year-olds who, to celebrate the coming of age, roam the streets of the town until late at night dressed as soldiers. It is a sort of initiation rite, a greeting to the boys who, having officially become men, will have to leave home for military service. 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 symbolizes the Carnival (the desire to “guzzle”, to  get wined and dined) is placed in the main square of the village, Piazza San Giovanni, and it will remain inanimate until the last day before Lent. The Shrove Tuesday, when it realizes that the party is about to end, it will try to escape. At this point, Carlisep comes alive, personified by one of the young Vegeta, and is captured by his other conscripts who take him in a procession. In this moment, the Carlisep returns to be a puppet and will be burned in the midnight. It  is condemned to the stake because he would like the Carnival to never end.

The Bei and the Brut … they arrive!

In support of this theater, the streets of the town are covered, the days before the Shrove Tuesday, by the inhabitants of the village with particular clothes and wooden masks that recall the typical characters of the peasant past: there are the Mascarun, the Bei (the beautiful) who represent the rich, who strut in their gorgeous and almost ridiculous clothes decorated with the strangest and flashy junkies, with the round and well done belly (butasc) and then there are the Brut, (ugly) the emigrants, who go around with the pannier, with the broom or with the suitcase, with malfunctioning or useless tools, and a distended belly. Bei and Brut can not speak, but they make themselves heard because they go around with bells with a specific sound: the Bei have, tied in life, the “Bronze”, in use among the shepherds , while the Brut have only the “Cioche”, bells with a dull and not so pleasant sound.
The only one who has the right to speak is the Ciocia, the wife of the rich, who uses her voice only to complain of her husband, scolding continuously, and has the features of a witch: apron, clogs, handkerchief on the head, rock and melted to spin wool.
Other characters are two Sapor, who lead the procession, with steps from gendarmes, dressed in sheepskins, and the Sigurta (security), with cape and military hat that guarantees for all the characters that turn camouflaged.
In addition to these typical masks, in Schignano you can see other colorful subjects because, as a saying goes: “For the people of Schignano to go in a mask is an instinctive fact. One goes home, overturns the jacket, get a little makeup, puts a hat on the reverse and he’ is wearing a mask “.
In short, the schignanesi, the Carnival have it in their DNA.

The beautiful festival of Schignano does not end in a single day but is divided into several events including: the parade of children, the parade on Saturday and the grand final parade on Shrove Tuesday, when you turn on a large bonfire in order to burn the Carlisep.

Schignano Carnival Program 2018
It starts Sunday, February 4, with the “Children’s Carnival” and the first parade of typical masks. On Saturday 10 February the first big parade is scheduled, as always open by Sapeur and Sigurtà, in a blaze of colors and sounds. Tuesday, February 13, space to the grand finale, with the parade, the escape of Carlisep, the great masked ball and the burning of the puppet.
The following is the approximate indicative program – for confirmation, consult the official website

Sunday 4 February 2018 – CARNIVAL OF CHILDREN
2 pm – Meeting in Piazza San Giovanni (Occagno) of the “miniature” masks
2.30 pm – Parade up to Auvrascio and back

Saturday 10 February 2018

1.45 pm – Meeting with the Sapeur
2.15 pm – Meeting of traditional masks in Piazza San Giovanni (Occagno)
2.30 pm – Parade along the village streets, up to the Auvrascio hamlet and back
19.00 – Typical dinner (Polivalente Civic Center)
9.00 pm – (Centro civico Polivalente) Veglione in maschera with orchestra. Closing at 3 o’clock in the morning.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018
1.45 pm – Meeting with the Sapeur
2.00 pm – Meeting of traditional masks in Piazza San Giovanni (Occagno)
2.30 pm – Parade along the village streets, up to the Auvrascio hamlet and back
4.00 pm – Carlisep Escape
9.00 pm – Veglione with Fughéta al Carpigo
11.30 pm – Procession with Zep and bonfire at midnight in Piazza San Giovanni

Further information on

Link to the official brochure written en English and French

In the brochure you can read this description of the Carnival

Schignano is a little village placed in a marvelous corner of Fal d’Intelvi, between green mountains that seem to dive into the blue of Como Lake. The toiling of the bells of the beautiful Mascaruns, at dawn, through the pictoresque alleys, are the first welcome to the Carnival of Schignano, on Shrove Saturdays and Shrove Tuesdays, each year, according to the Roman Rite dates. It’s a century old tradition and a fun, exciting and engaging feast representing in a colourful and musical way the never-ending contrast between “rich and poor”, that is the overwhelming social struggle between Brut and Mascarun Figures. The Carnival of Schignano is an original and unique folk and cultural carnival, one of the most fascinating all over Italy. The groups of masked people, Mascaruns, Bruts, and Ciocia, accompanied by the notes of Fugheta, meet in the early afternoon in the wonderful San Giovanni Square, on Shrove Saturday and Shrove Tuesday. The parades are lead by the two Sapeur enigmatic figures, entirely coverde by sheep skins and by the Sigurtà, the guardian of the order. The puppet representing the feast is the Carlisep that is hang up in St. Giovanni Square during the Carnival period. After the Tuesday Parade, it’s replaced by a real person (one of the conscripts) and tries to escape, but his destiny is aforethought, the Carnival must end and at midnight the Carlisep is burn: the feast is over.

Translate: Italian