In our area we host a Carnival every year which attracts thousands of visitors who come to see the typical “masks” and allegorical “floats” and “carts”.

The origins of the differents masks date as far back as last century. The single events lived moments of oblivion before reviving successfully.

In Novara King Biscottino (he owes his name to the traditional sweet) and Queen Cuneta have reigned since 1872.

Figure 6 – King Biscottino and the carnival of Novara

The most important Carnival is in Oleggio, by now well-known all around Italy. Pirin and his wife Majn are the main masks. The tradition wants that the noble but cruel Barnabò owned 5,000 dogs, and give more than the half of them into the care of the peasants. One of these made some typical maize sweets, - of which Barnabò was greedy - which had been poisoned by his wife, in order to offer them on the occasion of his customary submission visit. The Duke became suspicious and made them be tasted by the dogs, which of course died. The peasant was jailed and sentenced to death and only the “Marchese di Monferrato” saved him when he defeated Barnabò after a bloody war the story was told and sung and a dialect poet gave the country man the name “Pirin”. The memory of that fact has survived till today.

The Oleggio Carnival was revived in 1951. On the fist Sunday of Carnival, Pirin takes possession of the town and until the last Thursday of Carnival he reigns. The Oleggio Carnival became famous in time for its parade of allegorical carts. The Carnival carts, modified and lighted, go in night parade, accompanied by Folklorist groups. To all spectators as much wine as they like is offered.

The carts, realised with paper-maché painted with tempera, are built by some volunteers who aren’t paid. The time of building of the carts may change depending on the size and of the complexity. They often represent political satires, or important events. During the Carnival, the carts are sequeled by some people in custom or by musical bands.

At the end of the parade a prize is assigned to the best cart.

Figure 7 – The carnival parade in Oleggio