The traditional Veronese carnival which takes place in piazza San Zeno dates back to 1531, the year in which a grave crisis saw the huge increase in the price of flour and consequent refusal of bakers to sell bread. The inhabitants of San Zeno, at the time one of the poorest and most populated quarters of the city, suffered the most. Thus a commission of citizens was formed to procure and distribute grain and flour. Tommaso Da Vico, the traditional father of the carnival, also took part in this activity. It is told that on his deathbed he ordered the free distribution of bread, wine, butter, flour and cheese to the quarters inhabitants during the last Friday of the carnival.
In time the carnival grew to include the whole of the city. Every quarter has its own mask: the most ancient and important is the Pap del Gnoco, whose festival takes place on Mardi Gras and coincides with the largest event of the festivities, the procession of floats which goes through the city.