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Bacanal Gnoco

verona carnival

Food and legends go hand in hand thorough out Italy, and Verona has its fair share of food related stories, this one relates to Bacanal del Gnoco, a plate of gnocchi in tomato sauce.

Between 1520 and 1531 Verona suffered a severe famine. The River Adige flooded causing extensive damage to crops and the Landsknecht, infantrymen of the Holy Roman Empire, invaded the area pillaging and plundering everything in their path. On 18 June 1531 the population, hungry and desperate, raided the bakers of San Zeno for supplies of wheat and bread.
But, the situation was saved by some kind and concerned citizens who provided, at their own expense, food to the poorest citizens of the district. The story handed down through the years tells of dumplings being distributed among the population on the last Friday of Carnival by Tommaso Da Vico, the founder of the Bacchanalia of dumplings, and along with the dumplings bread, wine and cheese were also distributed.
The event is now celebrated during carnival with Papa del Gnoco. He is represented as an old man with rosy cheeks, a long white beard, brown brocade dress and coat, and a red top hat with bells attached. He is considered to be the king of Bacanal Gnoco and has a large forked golden scepter which is skewered with dumpling potato. He rides on the back of a mule, and the name of the Pastissada or tomato sauce which traditionally accompanies the dumplings is called ‘burnt donkey’. During the parade, Papa del Gnoco is accompanied by his servants, the gobeti or macaroni, who give out sweets to the children and packages of dumplings for adults.
Bacanal Dumplings and tomato sauce are now a traditional course to celebrate Carnival in Verona.

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