The Carnival of Sappada in the DolomitesLocal Traditions
The Carnival of Sappada in the Dolomites
When it comes to carnival, everyone immediately thinks of Venice… But in the Veneto region there are many other Carnival events with roots in local folklore.
A great example is the Carnival of Sappada, where Rollate is protagonist: a masked character wearing heavy dark sheepskin fur with a large hood that completely wraps up the head, adorned with a tuft of red wool. The face is covered with a mask made from wood that alters the voice of the wearer, with a stern look and dark thick moustache and eyebrows.
It takes its name from ‘rolln’, noisy bells in the shape of metal spheres that are tied at the waist of the masked character with a chain and are rung as it walks along.
In the past, the Rollate mask carried negative connotations, and it is said that dressing up as Rollate was an opportunity to avenge injuries suffered and dispel old grudges. At that time, during celebrations, the Rollate masks were preceded by clowns (pajazn) who wore colourful outfits with a cone-shaped hat and would hop around them. After the clowns disappeared, Rollate took over their role in entertaining children.
In the past, as a rule, Carnival was forbidden for children and was a ritual reserved for adults only: if the kids got too close to the masked figures, they would get frightened and chased! In Sappada not only weren’t they allowed to wear masks and join the carnival alongside adults, but they were also threatened by the masks.
The Rollate, in particular, had the specific task of threatening and frightening children who, when they heard the sound of rolln approaching threateningly, ran up to the top floor of their houses or, terrified, looked for safe spaces.
If you want to participate in the lively carnival of Sappada just book your transfer online! We will take you to the heart of the Dolomites to let you take part in one of the oldest and most festive local events!
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