This write-up and photos are from almost a year ago, Carnevale 2012, but they never made it up. I’m trying to upload old pictures and the accompanying stories now with back dates so they are archived in order.
Today (Saturday) we went to Carnevale in Rome. The celebration is ongoing starting after Epiphany and going up to the day before Ash Wednesday (Fat Tuesday). Today is a parade with horses and a horse show later at night. Other celebrations included Fat Thursday, also tomorrow will be another parade without horses, and more celebrations Fat Tuesday.
In many cities the celebrations are for the poor people, in Rome the celebrations historically were focused on the ruling class. The style of the parade and performers reflects this history. Tomorrow we’re going to a traditional farmer-style Carnevale in a small town, so I’ll see the difference better.
Including horses is traditional for the Roman Carnevale. Via del Corso, the main street in Rome that cuts across the city was built to have races for Carnevale. The Roman Carnevale of the renaissance period was the biggest in all of Italy. It centered around the horse races held every evening for the eight days of celebrations. In 1874, a boy crossed in front of the horses and was killed in front of the royal family. They canceled the races going forward and it was like Carnevale itself was canceled.
For the parade today on Via del Corso they started with street performers. They came down and stopped and put on a show before moving down the street. Then the horses. There were an incredible amount. The theme was “Travel and Discovery”, there were many riders and carriages holding people in medieval garb, as they would have arriving to Rome many years ago.
After the parade Daniele and I took a short walk, had a snack. We came back in time to get a good place for the horse show that night. They had set up half of Piazza del Popolo as a sand bottom pen for the performances.
The show was a series a world famous horse performers. They had a few trainers. One was incredible! There were also trick riders. One guy had a pony and some type of horse that was the size of a dog. It was so cute!
After the show Daniele brought me to the restaurant that he wanted to bring me for Valentine’s Day, but it was overbooked. It was founded by two vegetarian sisters in 1987, so most of the menu is vegetarian. The food was exceptionally good, even by Italian restaurant standards. The menu included lots of different interesting items that I’m not used to seeing. We shared a Crostini di polenta al pesto di noci (baked polenta square with walnut pesto) for an antiposto. Then for first course I had a Lasagne mandorle e olive (olive and almond lasagna) and Daniele had Tortelli alla Mantovana (special pasta from Mantova with a sweet filling of squash and dried fruit in a butter sage sauce). For the second course I had Polpette di ricotta e Fichi (“meatballs” of ricotta and fig) and Daniele had Crocchette di cannellino alle erbe aromatiche (“meatballs” of beans and mushrooms). Everything was just so amazing. You know those rare meals when the food is so well prepared that you get that super satisfied feeling and you keep waiting for the over eating feeling, but it never comes? It was one of those. Though I did still feel full the next morning. I don’t normally get three courses– but how could I resist! The place itself was adorable as well. The door outside is locked, you have to rind the bell. They fill up every night with reservations. So you are not being disturbed with people coming in and out while eating. They create an atmosphere like they are sharing a meal with you at there home. In fact the small room with only a few tables is decorated like we could be in someone’s home. It’s my new favorite restaurant!
Le Bistrot in Garbatella
Photos from Carnevale