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Villaro Carnival

The ancient Carnival of the hamlet of Villaro in Acceglio Municipality, was called, by the inhabitants, “Barbòeros”, that is masked characters in Occitan language. Carnival was of great importance in the past, not only as a moment for feasting but a ceremony of the past year and a good omen for the next, as well. It constituted an important moment of aggregation for the whole population of Acceglio, as everybody participated in the preparation of the scenery and costumes according to a strict cultural heritage.

The origins of Villaro Carnival are not so certain, it has continued to pass throughout the ages until today both verbally and through the concrete experiences of the celebration of the rites themselves.

The masked characters were all and only men who used to play both male female roles (that’s why were called “barbòeros”, meaning bearded).

The costumes were mainly white with lots of decorative dry flowers, ribbons and hand-made laces. These costumes were unique, since they had to be undone at the end of the Carnival season (the costumes were everyday dresses of the people and the roles changed every year that’s why decorations strictly related to a particular character, had to be given to the man who performed that specific role).

The group of the characters were led by the Commander, who, according to the strict ritual, used to go and patrol the streets of Villaro and Acceglio.

The characters were very many: Sapeurs (soldiers), Pulcinellas, Harlequins, the Carnival, the Bear, the Hunter, the Doctor, the

Cellarman, the Devil, the Bride and Bridegroom, the Judge, the Wandering Jew, the Gravedigger, the Lent, Layers and many more extras.

These masked characters were fruit of long ago traditions and popular beliefs that mingled with cultural phenomena well rooted on the territory of Western Alps, so much that they have always been object of study for anthropologists and ethnographers.

In 1991 was celebrated the last representation of this Carnival. It was less relevant as usual, due to the always more complexity organization, in finding materials, equipments for the world stage, the lack of actors, and the loss of old people used to prepare costumes and scenery.

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