A peculiar carnival
Only 40 miles from Matera the Arab-Norman town of Tricarico hosts one of Italy’s most peculiar Carnivals. which recalls the ancient tradition of transhumance when the herd was moved from the mountain to the downhill meadows.
Telltale signs of the close link between the villagers and animals are everywhere.
The masks represent cows and bulls both managed by the cowherd. The first ones are adorned with multicolored ribbons, in the past made of leather. The bulls wear black costumes and masks.
Their bells resonate all together creating a mixed-up rhythm and a noisy but joyful atmosphere. The count and his wife, who represent the noble owners of the herd, follow the loud convoy.
The first parade takes place at dawn on the 17th of January, in honor of Saint Antonio Abate, protector of animals.
After the blessing from the priest, the herd stampedes through the streets of the town ringing their cowbells fervently and rambunctiously (classic Carnival behavior symbolizing rebellion against the powerful class). The village is awakened by the joyful parade that moves around the narrow alleys in a sort of tribal dance.
The masked characters trample through the streets ringing doorbells and in return, are offered drinks and snacks by their paesani. Singing and dancing ensue.
After January 17th, the parade is only repeated once more on the last Sunday of Carnival. Starting from 10.30 in the morning the whole day is a party. A concert in the main square “Piazza Garibaldi” precedes the death of Carnival and the mourning of his wife Quaremma.