Bagolino Carnival, a one-of-a-kind carnival in Italy
Bagolino is a small village in the mountains of Sabbia Valley near Brescia. Every year, one of the oldest and most important carnival celebrations is held here: it’s the Bagolino Carnival, with music, dance, and costumes dating from the 16th century.
Music and dance: a journey in time going back to more than 500 years ago
For three days a year, the characteristic medieval village of Bagolino is invaded by the bright colors of Balarì (dancers), who wear a mask and elaborate costumes passed down from generation to generation. They dance to the music of Sonadur (players) playing the violin.
The music of the Bagolino Carnival is completely different than any other northern Italy traditional music. Its specific features and the use of a strings and guitar orchestra suggest a German or Austrian origin.
Moreover, the isolation of the village, far away from the main communication routes, contributed to the preservation of the original music and dance.
Dancers and players walk around the village stopping in front of the houses of family, friends, and fiancées to dance. Villagers offer something to drink or give the town crier a donation which will be used to pay for the community dinner at the end of the celebration.
This elegant dance show is accompanied by characters representing the agricultural world, called Maschèr (masks). They walk around in a clumsy, bizarre way and make fun of everyone they meet.
Most carnival celebrations in Italy involve parades showcasing sophisticated floats; however, the narrow streets and the square of Bagolino resonate with the sound of hobnailed clogs which represent the common trait of the two traditional characters: Ceviòl (male costume) and Guenel (female costume).
Another important character is Paiasso, whose task is to keep things quiet around the dancers when they perform and during the traditional final ‘Ariosa’ dance.
This captivating tradition combines historical reenactment and sacred celebration in a magical, fun, entertaining atmosphere.