Yes it’s that time of year again, and this past Sunday we drove out to Aosta for the 8th edition of Carnavals de Montagne. The carnival of the alps is a sort of parade of parades to kick-start the numerous celebrations in Valle d’Aosta. Marching bands, lords and ladies in medieval costume, the “Giganti” (giants), and groups in traditional outfits unique to the surrounding villages were all in attendance.
I’m not very clear as to why the festivities begin so early in this part of Italy but I belive it has something to do with yet another interesting side to valdostano culture. The carnival of the Coumba Freida (dialect for conca fredda or Cold Valley) takes its origins from Napoleon’s crossing of the Great Saint Bernard Pass, and the costumed landzette reflect the uniforms of the french soldiers. Unfortunately, these strikingly outlandish and brutish characters were not present at Aosta’s sfilata (parade) due to an appointment to perform on the same date in the neighboring hamlet of Valpelline. For a look at these landzette characters, take a peek at the blog Il Carnevale di Allein. The author has stunning photos and in some you’ll notice that the landzette are “harrassing” bystanders. This is not uncommon practice in other events that we’ve attended and is part of the raucous spirit that is carnevale. More images on Flickr.