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Carnevale, False Friends & Sweet Street Fights

It’s carnival season! Or should I say “carnevale” season. At this time of year in Italy every town comes alive with festivities.

The main event occurs on the Sunday preceding Shrove Tuesday, known in Italian as “Fat Tuesday” or “Martedì Grasso”, which this year falls on 28th February, however the build up lasts for a whole month, if not two, in some regions!

Each town has its own traditions which range from the famous masked balls in Venice to the lesser known Battle of the Oranges in the Northern town of Ivrea.

In every case, it’s a wonderfully colourful affair in which people of all ages participate.

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The town of Putignano in Bari is reputed to have the oldest carnival dating back to the 14th Century as well as being the longest, starting the day after Christmas (!) and running all the way to Shrove Tuesday.

There’s a saying in Italy which goes, “A carnevale ogni scherzo vale”, which translates roughly as "Anything goes at carnival time" or more specifically any joke goes! This concept has its roots in the historically festive nature of this time of year when social rules were relaxed, allowing people to let their hair down, party and have fun.

False friend alert!

Usually there’s no escaping the fact that it’s carnival since the streets are strewn with confetti - a central element of Italian Carnevale for centuries - which, incidentally, is known as “coriandoli” in Italian since “confetti” is something else entirely.

“Confetti” is something a little closer to our hearts at Lavolio :-) as it refers to the white, sugar-coated almonds traditionally used to mark births or as gifts for newlyweds and sometimes even scattered over the just married couple.

In the town of Andria in Puglia, it was traditional for the groom to go to the house of his beloved and shower her with these sweet sugar-coated almond candies to wish her fertility.

In certain parts of the country, namely Puglia, this use of the sugar-coated almonds extends also to carnival. According to some sources, during the Byzantine era, the nobility would throw these luxury sweet confections from their balconies onto the common people. What joy!

Nowadays, both engaged couples as well as carnival revellers are less likely to be showered with sweets for health and safety reasons. Luckily the traditional sugar-coated sweets are still there to be enjoyed and Lavolio sugar-coated confectionery is handcrafted in the traditional way by our Italian artisans so you are invited to enjoy our deliciously innovative flavours made in the traditional way - like our scrumptious pistachio with a hint of vanilla or our sumptuous dark chocolate covered hazelnut - in whichever way you choose to, be that by organising a sweet street fight or calmly savouring the flavour of each and every one as you indulge in one of our gift tins. We recommend the latter of course …. ;-)

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With showers of love from the Lavolio team in London!