Monday, February 23, 2004

Ha ha. Well, there may be a rather democratically European solution to the local pollution issue but never let it be said that the Veronese let their austere friends from the mountaineous north over-influence. Just as I posted about the anti-pollution car-banning measures last week, they were suspended because of, ahem, gnocchi Friday.

A few weeks ago I was awoken from my Sunday morning slumber by a brass band making a big furore of out something-or-other out in the piazza. That something-or-other turned out to be the elections for the post of papa di gnocchi, whose responsibilities on the big day don’t seem to go much further than wearing a large Santa Claus-esque white beard, stuffing a pillow up a garish red and gold costume to make himself look fatter and making his presense felt in the environs of the gnocchi tent. The festivities that go alongside this however are – how shall we put this? – colourful, bizarre, tacky and fun. I spent the afternoon watching an array of bands (of mixed quality) and floats – 30ft high dragons, giant gnocchi chefs and vast, haunting Stay Puff Marshmellow Man-like faces – passing through the piazza, whilst teenagers covered each other with foam and kids in all sorts of fancy dress threw confetti around at will. The streets were a mess by the time the final float – an giant Alice and Mad Hatter towed by a tractor blaring out “Hey Baby” – came by in the early evening. Bonkers.

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