Bacanal del Gnoco
The traditional Carnival of Verona (also called Bacanal del Gnoco) seems to date back to 1531 when Verona had to withstand a severe scarcity of food.
Due to the famine, the price of flour became so high that bakers were forced to stop production and sale of bread.
Riots followed, especially among the residents of the district of San Zeno (location of the Cathedral of the same name).
The uprising was avoided only thanks to the creation of a committee of wealthy citizens who purchased and distributed wheat and flour.
It is said that one of the members of this committee was also Tommaso da Vico, a wealthy physician that is traditionally cited as the founder of the Carnival of Verona.
At his death, in 1531, Tommaso da Vico left written in his will that part of his wealth should be used each year to distribute bread, wine, butter, cheese and flour to the people living in the District of San Zeno to prepare gnocchi on the Friday before Carnival.
Preparing and eating gnocchi on that day became soon a tradition for the families of Verona, and even today the last Friday before Lent is called Friday Gnocolàr.
Over time, the Carnival of Verona became widespread, involving the different districts, each of which has its own committee and its traditional masks, made up or inspired by a historical figure or a trade.
Every year they hold a parade that is traditionally opened by the mask which represents the district of San Zeno, the “Papà del Gnoco”, followed by other masks such as, for example, Simeon del’Isolo (Veronetta district), Duca de la Pignata and Dio de l’Oro (Santo Stefano district), Principe Reboano de la Concordia (Filippini district), Sior de la Spianà (Stadium district), Duca de la Pearà (Indipendenza – Santa Lucia district), and many others that animate the streets of Verona on the last Friday of Carnival, together with floats, performers, music bands and majorettes.