Carnevale Ambrosiano in full swing

Milan’s Carnevale Ambrosiano got off to a good start on Wednesday 5 March as Mayor Giuliano Pisapia handed over the keys of the city to Meneghino, traditional figure of the Commedia dell’Arte, and his wife Cecca, accompanied by Renzo and Lucia, in Brianza country costume, representing the young couple in Manzoni’s classic novel The Betrothed.
 
In the Ambrosian (or Milanese) Rite,  Lent starts four days later than in the Roman Rite; there is no Ash Wednesday, and Carnival continues until "sabato grasso" corresponding to Shrove Tuesday in areas where the Roman Rite is used.  There is a picturesque explanation for the difference: according to tradition, Milan’s bishop (and later saint) Ambrose was on a pilgrimage, and had announced that he would be back in time to celebrate the start of Lent with the residents of his city.  Unfortunately his voyage was delayed, so the people of Milan shifted carnival back a few days while they waited for his return.
 
For three days, the city will celebrate the lead-up to the frugality of Lent with showers of coloured paper confetti, squirts of sticky green slime, kids in every imaginable costume from Zorro to R2D2, and Saturday’s parade of allegorical floats.  Traditionally prepared by the Foundation of Diocesan Oratories of Milan, this year’s floats will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Italian Olympic Committee, under the headline “Sportissimissimi”. The parade starts at 15.00 and sets off through the city centre. It will include bands, jugglers and trampoline artists, a travelling stage for the theatre group “la Compagnia Piccolo Nuovo”, and ethnic groups to underline the city’s multicultural character.  Other parades, street theatre, make-up artists and kids’ games will animate many of the city’s neighbourhoods.
 
The main appointment for kids will be on Saturday from 11.00 to 17.00 in the courtyard of Palazzo Marino, city hall, for performances by a little circus which will invite the kids to take part in the performances, or have their costume enhanced by some expert make-up.
 
A full programme of the Milan’s 2014 carnival attractions is published on this page of the city hall website. In parallel with the traditional carnival events, the city this year will welcome Milano Clown Festival with street events from 15.00 to 24.00 Thursday and Friday, and 11.00 to 15.00 on Saturday.  The programme page lists all 17 locations.

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