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Carnival Putignano

Discover with us the oldest and longest Carnival event in the world!

Putignano is an ancient town set among the gentle hills of the Murgia territory, in Puglia region; full of history and traditions, it is surrounded by an enchanting countryside devoted to agriculture and livestocks; but, first of all, Putignano is well known for its legendary Carnival.

According to the legend, in 1394 the Knights of Malta who dominated the territory decided to move the Saint Stephen’s remains from Monopoli to Putignano, because the backcountry was safer in order to protect them against Saracen attacks. During the knights passage, the farmers who were working in the fields stopped and followed them, dancing and playing dialectical satires in homage to the Saint’s relics: this would then create the Carnival tradition!

The Carnival of Putignano is the oldest and the longest one in the world: it has just approached its 622nd edition, and the celebration lasts no less than 2 months, starting on 26th December with Propaggini and closing on Fat Tuesday with a funny and eccentric funeral parade of allegorical floats, masterpieces of papier-mâché.

The Carnival is characterized by a rich and varied program, which combines sacred and profane events: during the opening date, people bring candles in the Church to ask for an early remission of the sins which they will commit during the following weeks and then, in the evening, it’s time for Propaggini, the playing of satirical verses and biting poems in the local dialect dedicated to the major events and rumors about the most powerful figures of the year.

Then, in January, Thursdays are dedicated to entertainment, satire and irony. Every week you can have a laugh on a certain social group: Monsignors, priests, nuns, widows, bachelors, wives and cuckolds – in this prescribed order.

On the Candlemas day there is the Bear celebration, a bizarre way to forecast weather conditions for the rest of winter: according to the Carnival logic, if the weather is good, the bear build a refuge for the bad weather to come; if not, it means that the weather will be better and the bear doesn’t need a shelter. Back in the days, Putignano celebrated this event with a real bear, but now there is a theatrical society which puts on this peculiar situation, and the bear is just a dancing masked man, led along the streets on a lish!

The last day of celebration, before the penitence period of the Lent, is on Shrove Tuesday. The sadness for the end of the celebration is well represented by a fake priests’ parade, which goes through the town crying and blessing people with small brooms immersed in a miniature toilette! The real funeral, celebrated on the Fat Monday, is accompanied by a papier-mâché pig which represents the excesses of Carnival celebration (in fact, at the end of the parade it is burnt!). Carnival is over, but you can start preparing for the Lent with the papier-mâché Campana dei Maccheroni and its 365 rings, the last moments of celebrations.

Putignano is well-known for its excellent papier-maché manufacture, used for the production of the floats which pared during the Carnival; the master craftsmen create every year new masterpieces, showing their passion and skills while they are working inside their warehouses.

But that is not all!

Do you know that the Putignano Carnival has a mascot? His name is Farinella and he’s a jester similar to Arlecchino, because of his multicolored costume and the hat with two bells, even if the original attire contemplated the colors of the town, blue and red, and a cap with three tips which represented the three hills where the town was built. The Farinella is a typical peasant dish made with toasted chickpea or barley and farmers used to have it for lunch during their working days in the fields.

If you want to experience these crazy and funny events, take note of the Parade’s days: 24 January and 7 February at 11.00 am and 30 January and 9 February at 7.00 pm.

Due to Covid pandemic parades have been postponed to next summer


I'm a Italy lover, mom of two, living in central Italy and I love travelling. I have a degree in Tourism economics and management and now I'm a consultant helping businesses working in tourism.

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