No snow? Try Carnevale!

This month’s Blogging Piemonte Group theme is Carnevale.

Now I have a small confession to make before I get started… Carnevale is not something that has ever interested me. In fact, it’s not something I’ve ever even thought about before. To me February in Piemonte means just one thing: snow! You can keep your fried food and frivolity because I’m going snowboarding.

Except this year I’m not, because winter still hasn’t arrived. It didn’t snow in December, it didn’t even snow in January and now it’s February and I’m sat here in the sunshine looking at some rather green mountains.

So, Carnevale it is. And it turns out there are far worse back-up plans to have. Sure, it’s no snowboarding, but it does involve children dressing up and throwing things at policemen, so I reckon I can get onboard!

Here are a few tips to help you get the most of Carnevale in Piemonte:

1.Dress Up. Or even better, dress up your child or dog (or both!). Bee went as a bee, obviously, while Otto steadfastly refused to wear his ‘two dogs carrying a present’ outfit… most girls were dressed as Princesses from Frozen, so special mention must go to the mother who dressed her three year-old as Fu Manchu!

Bee the bee flying
Bee flying her way through Alba
Dog carrying present
Photo courtesy of

2. Throw stuff. Oranges to be precise, though only if you’re in Ivrea, a small city to the North of Turin. If you do it elsewhere I won’t be held responsible for the consequences. Every year people travel from around the world to celebrate the city’s liberation from tyranny, dating back to medieval times, by throwing oranges at each other. The link is fairly tenuous, with the oranges there simply to fill the city with smell and colour and the throwers representing the people fighting against the system. But who doesn’t like throwing oranges at strangers? If you go, don’t wear a red stocking on your head unless you’re happy to be pelted.
Photo courtesy of


3. Eat Bugïe. These are deep-fried pastries, often filled with jam or Nutella and covered in sugar. They’re not good for you, but they do taste pretty good! Check out Italianna and Turin Mamma’s blogs if you want to know more…
Photo courtesy of

4. Watch a parade. Most towns and cities host a carnival parade where tractors pull huge floats, accompanied by excruciatingly loud music. It’s a great chance to show off your costume, and maybe you can even sneak a couple of oranges in to throw at any floats you don’t like.

5. Make pancakes. This one isn’t quite so Piemontese, but it’s nice to keep some English traditions alive, even in the heart of wine country. If you want to make it more Piemontese, you can always throw in some robiola cheese and a bit of prosciutto crudo and wash it down with a glass of Nebbiolo. Here’s a great recipe from the BBC.

Blogging Piemonte group

Every month or so, the Blogging Piemonte group meets to drink coffee and talk about the struggles of getting Italian driving licences and registering for the health system. We also decide on a topic to write about, from food and drink to travel and life in Piemonte. Follow along with the hashtag #BlogPiemonte!

Read up on what the others have to say about Carnevale (check back as it’s updated!):

The Oldest Carnevale in Piemonte, by Once Upon a Time in Italy

Lettuce, Rags, and Lies for Carnival, by Turin Mamma

Carnivale in Piemonte Means Bugie! by Italianna

Ivrea: THE Carnival in Piedmont, by Turin Epicurean Capital

The Treasonous Past of Famous Gianduja of Carnevale, on The Entire Pizza

At carnival, anything goes – especially wine! on uncorkventional

Carnevale… with kids? by Langhe Secrets


15 thoughts on “No snow? Try Carnevale!

  1. How many memories you evoke !
    (but please put an accent on: bugíe or a dieresi: bugïe so that the I is pronounced!) did you know that bugïe means lies? but I forget why…)

      1. In my family if they were cut in long strips and then fried they called them ‘cenci’ : rags…

  2. Having a Milanese mum (yes, everyone has his/her own failings…) meant trouble, for the bugie – on the other side of Ticino – are called chiacchere. So how to call them? Ah, the doubt!

    Anyhow, isn’t it snowing now? My neck of the woods (north Piemonte) had a good dusting yesterday and during the weekend. Strange winter indeed, anyway.

    1. Don’t the Milanese also get an extra few days of carnival? It’s all very confusing! The mountains have finally had their first snow in months, but it’s not enough to make a huge difference unfortunately. Here, it’s still warm and sunny. Time to head north in search of snow I think!!

  3. This so reminds me of home – Karneval in Duesseldorf – especially as I just got pictures of my niece (4) who went as a Strawberry this year. As far as the deep fried pastries go Karneval is big for that in Germany, too – you get a choice of Mutzenmandeln, Quarkkrapfen and in my home town, which has had a fair share of both polish and Italian immigration, the bakeries will also offer either chiacchere or their polish cousins ‘faworki’.
    Now, I will just have to google for recipes and start baking.

    1. I’ve been to the carnival in Koln a couple of times… Germans certainly now how to put on a carnival don’t they! Chiaccere are the same as Bugie I think, Bugie is just the Piemontese name. And a strawberry costume sounds amazing!!

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