Carnival Days

Carnival opening day “Albata”

At 5.58 a.m. on January 6 a group of musicians belonging to the town's marching band, “Banda Musicale”, walk around the town playing our Carnival hymn until sunrise. The merry music wakes everyone up, but it is an exciting awakening: the Carnival has begun!

Shrove Thursday

This is the day on which “Carnevalissima” takes place in the “Auditorium Comunale“. “Carnevalissima” is a show about the Pont-Saint-Martin carnival and is not to be missed. It is staged thanks to the very experienced company of players, “Amici del Teatro”.

Carnival Friday

This is the night of the party in the streets of the town. The “Insulae” of the different districts offer typical Carnival delicacies to everyone, with spit roasted pig, bean soup, “busecca”, “miasse e salignun” and pancakes with nutella, “bugie” (Carnival fritters), apple fritters and a huge variety of cakes and sweet things amongst the delicacies! Teas and herb teas are served, and for those who feel the cold, there is “vin brulé” (gluhwein).

Shrove Saturday

In Pont-Saint-Martin people are in turmoil. The streets and squares are decorated with the flags of the different “Insulae”. At night everybody is looking forward to going to Piazza IV Novembre (the main square) for the traditional appointment: the presentation of the characters of the historical Carnival.

Beating drums and clarion calls announce the entry of Saint Martin, the Devil, the Roman Consul, the Tribune of the people, the Roman guards and the Chief of the Roman guards.
Everybody is quiet and all are waiting for the presentation of the most important characters of the Carnival. The names of the Ancelle (maids) and the Ninfa (Nymph) will be revealed among after being kept secret for months. At the end of the presentation all the characters take a torchlight walk on the Roman bridge, accompanied by the town band playing the Carnival hymn.

Shrove Sunday

In the afternoon of Shrove Sunday there is a parade of masked groups. The parade of historical characters moves through the streets of the town and people come to applaud the Nymph and her maids, Saint Martin, the Devil, the Roman Consul, the Tribune of the people, the Roman guards and the Chief of the Roman guards, all of whom throw them mimosa flowers, confetti and candies as a mark of appreciation and in celebration of a happy and colourful carnival.

Following the parade of historical characters there are many bands and folklore groups playing and dancing. There are also masked groups, especially children, who are essential to the success of our carnival. The true meaning of our carnival is the enjoyment and fun experienced by everyone who attends.

Shrove Monday

The “fagiolata”
(bean soup public distribution)

In the little square “Piazza I Maggio” a group of people called “fagiolai” (beans cooker) cook the traditional bean soup, beginning at sunrise. They use huge copper pots set on big fires to reproduce the ancient carnival tradition of offering food to the poor people for free. Public distribution of the soup takes place after the historical characters and the authorities have first tasted this delicious food.

La corsa delle bighe
(Chariot races)

The chariot races took place for the first time in 1985 when they replaced the traditional games. Bighe or chariots are two wheeled vehicles similar to those used during the Roman era. Every district or “insulae” has its own chariot and “equipage”, consisting of a charioteer and four athletes- women or men - who pull the chariot. There is great enthusiasm for this competition nowadays and every year more and more people watch the races. In the future this competition may achieve the notoriety of the “palio” of other Italian cities.

Roman relay race

This race was run for the first time in 2002 but was officially organized first in 2003. It is a novelty that makes the Pont-Saint-Martin Carnival even more interesting. The relay is run by three athletes wearing Ancient Roman clothes featuring the colours of their “insulae” team. Each athlete runs a course from Piazza IV November to the Roman Bridge and Via Roma, and then returning to the starting point.

Shrove Tuesday

On Shrove Tuesday there is again a Carnival parade with many beautiful carnival floats. Most of the floats are made by people from the surrounding areas expressly for the Pont-Saint-Martin Carnival.
Each float has a satirical, historical or ironic theme which represents the society in which we live.
People of all age participate in the parade which is full of colour, music, confetti, bangers and alcoholic drinks!

 The coming of the night on Shrove Tuesday announces that Carnival time is about to finish.

A big puppet representing a devil hangs under the Roman Bridge throughout the carnival. On the last night of the Carnival this puppet is burned to signal the end of the Carnival as well as the defeat of Evil.

The final show is an amazing fireworks show above the Roman bridge: it is definitely not to be missed

With sadness people greet the end of Carnival time. But Some are already planning the next Carnival because

«'l carlevé l'è mort, viva 'l carlevé»
“The Carnival is dead, Long live the Carnival”


Every day life begins again in Pont-Saint-Martin. On this first day of Lent a lunch is organised where "Polenta e Mërluss" (polenta and codsteak) is served. This is a chance to spend time with the friends with whom they celebrated the Carnival.

Passages extract from the book:
Il Diavolo e San Martino
Musumeci Editore, 1988