Carnival of Verona and Papà del Gnoco: History and Meaning

Who I am
Joel Fulleda

Like many Italian cities, Verona also boasts one of the most ancient traditions as regards a much loved and appreciated holiday in our country: the Carnival. Like the Venice Carnival or that of Viareggio, also the Verona Carnival is affirmed as one of the most interesting events at the beginning of the year, a great event of joy and fun for both adults and children.
But what are the origins of this historic Carnival? Such as yours most famous masks?


  1. Origins and history of the Verona Carnival: 4 interesting reconstructions
  2. Papà del Gnoco and the other masks
  3. Where stay
  4. User questions and comments

Origins and history of the Verona Carnival: 4 interesting reconstructions

1 - Bacanal del Gnoco

identifying precisely the origins of the Verona Carnival is not at all easy, given that it is a very long tradition that has its roots in the dawn of time. If a historical reconstruction is possible, the first known records of this festival date back to Middle Ages, when the Veronese Carnival was still known as "Bacanal del Gnoco". The beginning of this tradition is due to Tommaso Da Vico who in his will left the obligation to his heirs to distribute food to the inhabitants of the San Zeno district at least once a year. This special day took the name of "Baccanale del Gnocco", one feast of reconciliation between poor and rich from which the Carnival party would later originate.

2 - Venardi Gnocolar

Da Persico in his work "Descrizione di Verona" identifies as the birth of the carnival the institution of what was formerly called "Venardi Casolar", today Friday Gnocolar, or a special day in which citizens paid homage to the Republic of Venice setting up an allegorical chariot (called Carro dell'Abbondanza), from which the Feast of Abundance, mother of the carnival.

3 - The Feast of all the people

Another interesting hypothesis on the origins of the Carnival is the one that identifies its origins in the Feast of the whole people, established in 1208 by Ezzelino da Romano to celebrate the victory of the Ghibellines over the Guelphs.

4 - The Fourteenth Century Carnival

Lastly, one cannot fail to mention one of the most interesting historical reconstructions, namely the one that identifies the birth of the Carnival in the fourteenth century, the period of splendor of Cangrande della Scala, the most important lord of Verona. It is said, in fact, that every year on the day of translation of the body of San Zeno, a fair was held that involved not only the merchants but all the people.

Papà del Gnoco and the other masks

Like any other self-respecting Carnival, even that of Verona has its masks, symbols of its history and traditions. Everyone knows that Pulcinella it owes its birth to Naples, which Harlequin is Bergamo or that Balanzone is a native of Bologna, but how many know Veronese masks?
The traditional of the Verona Carnival was severely tested by the invasions of troops of Napoleon, well known for their ability and extreme aptitude to erase the traditions and origins of the occupied lands. Verona also ran this risk, but was able to preserve its traditions and make them survive any form of historical "concealment". Thus it was that the Veronese Carnival party managed to reach up to the nineteenth century, when, under the dominion of Cisalpine Republic, the Carnival party even obtained public funding.
It was in these years that the already long tradition of Carnival was further strengthened, expanding its already wide range of traditional masks. It is no coincidence, in fact, that the masks of the Carnival of Verona are many and represent all the districts of the city:

  1. Dad of the Gnoco: Papà Gnocco, symbol of the San Zeno district, dates back to 1531 and is therefore considered as the oldest mask in Italy.
  2. King of the Pignata: representation of the San Stefano district, its invention is more recent as it dates back to 1884 and the day dedicated to it is the last Monday of Carnival.
  3. El Principe Reboano de la concordia, from the Filippini district, mask of the historic center of the city, the absolute protagonist of Saturday.
  4. Among the other traditional masks worth remembering are the Homeless Baron of the Veronetta district, the Sun King of the Borgo Milano district, the King of the Stanga of the White Cross district or the Donzelletta representing the Borgo Nuovo district.

Where stay

The Verona Carnival is an event that every year attracts hundreds and hundreds of visitors, coming not only from Italy but also from many foreign countries. The great tourist attraction that this wind has always exercised is undoubtedly linked to its strong dose of Folklore and to its being unique and very special. Like the Carnival of Venice, also that of Verona unfolds with a series of private events and appointments over the span of three months, offering parties, events, shows and entertainment not only for children but also for adults.
A period of celebration that affects the whole city and that is certainly worth living if you have never done it until now! So if you are a group of friends or a family, we suggest that you study the calendar of events and choose the period that best suits your needs.
As far as accommodation is concerned, finding a good accommodation perhaps in the center of Verona will not be difficult at all; Verona is a city with a great tourist vocation and in the months of Carnival the offer is further expanded. However it is possible to find excellent ones accommodation solutions, to combine price and quality, on the sites flight and hotel comparators like Expedia.

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