Art & Culture

The journey of the Gran Carnevale Maiorese

In its 48th edition, the colorful allegorical event returns to the country’s streets after two years of silence.

By Anna Volpicelli

With the mind, with the heart, and with the spirit. The journey is the theme chosen for the 48th edition of the long-awaited Grand Carnival Maiosere. On Sunday, 8 and 15 May, the town’s streets will come alive with colors, installations, and music. “After two years of difficulty – says Alfonso Pastore, head of the event’s organization – it seemed right to point to the restart, starting from the journey. 

From generation to generation

The protagonists of the sparkling parade are three floats perfectly decorated with real works of art in papier-mâché made by emerging and enthusiastic master craftsmen: young artists aged between 30 and 45 years who have learned the techniques and knowledge from previous generations. “They are our historical memory,” explains Pastore, “and the stories of the people who came before us and continue to be an integral part of this long tradition stimulate young people to go down this road and bring out the best in them. After participating in the parade in Minori,  in 1971, the maiorese group Nuova Naiade started the festival in Maiori. It was a great event that hosted ten groups from all over the Amalfi Coast and also won the attention and the recognition of the Region. Today, some members of the pioneer group are still involved in the organization of the Maiori carnival covering more managerial and managerial roles, such as engineer Taiani who follows the works step by step, especially when it comes to safety. “The Carnival is a serious thing – he says, laughing – I started when I was young when it was in Minori. Then with a group of friends, we decided to bring the event to Maiori. There have been many evolutions over time, and this year, for the first time, we were also able to build a float that will move with autonomous controls, that is, at a distance”. 

The Carnival installation of Gli Invisibili, courtesy of Gran Carnevale Maiorese

Gli Invisibili 

The rules for building the floats are precise: 4.50m wide, 12m long by 12m high. “Our interpretation of this year’s theme is Navigating among social. A journey between social, where we will present two masks, Fedez and Kabilez King, and a world that is squeezed like a lemon by all these characters that, through Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, squeeze our lives,” says Marcello Ferraro, co-founder of the association Gli Invisibili officially born in 2016. Behind the installation, a group of dancers will dance to the music of the leading artists. “I started to take my first steps in this world in 1982. I participated in the construction of many floats and also as a dancer. Then with a group of friends, we decided to form this association, which today includes more than 70 people.”

Gli Amici di Sempre

Each installation is an actual work of craftsmanship that includes ironwork, which represents the structure of the mask, which is then covered with papier-mâché and painted. “The welding work, since they are huge structures that require tons of iron, is done in collaboration with master ironworkers,” explains Alessio Mascariello, 33, president and co-founder of Amici Di Sempre – ADS, an association created in memory of Vittorio, a friend of the group who died at age 19 of leukemia. “We are all friends animated by the same passion. A passion that is now becoming a real job thanks to the funding we receive from the Ministry and the Region, especially thanks to Alfonso’s support,” he explains. To give life to each wagon and its elements takes about two or three months. “The biggest job, beyond the time commitment, manual skills, and organization, is for me to help these kids believe in themselves, push them to grow, and make this job, which they do as volunteers, a real job,” Pastore tells us. Mama Africa is the title of the ADS installation, which teaches something about life. “We have built a large lion on which a child will be placed standing, named Celestino, inspired by De Gregori’s song Vai in Africa Celestino (ed.). The standing child represents the balance of life. In the background is an image of a sunset and two African masks that symbolize suffering, such as war and pandemics, which are always present in life and which we all try to escape somehow,” explains Marcello. He has participated in the carnival since he was 15 years old.

An artist of I Monelli, while working on the installation, courtesy of Gran Carnevale Maiorese

I Monelli

Social declinations also for the interpretation of the journey of I Monelli, an association that brings together a group of childhood friends that sees as president Antonio Mennella. “We have built a mask of Zuckerberg that we will put in the center of the wagon and come out a head of a good hacker. These two characters will also be joined by the figure of Omega, a famous YouTuber,” explains Mennella. Following the mobile installation through the streets of Maiori will be dancers whose movements will be choreographed by Raffaella Taiani and Veronica Esposito. “We still don’t know anything about what they will do. It’s all top secret. We will find out the day of the rehearsals,” says the president. 

The special guests

The 2022 edition will also see the participation of two important guests, including a float from the Viareggio Carnival, the winner of the last event, and the presence of the quadrille of Palma Campania. “The masquerade of Viareggio -explains Pastore – is a work of Silvano Bianchi and is inspired by the greats of the ‘900. Therefore, there will be Martin Luther King, Mandela, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and Gandhi, a journey to peace important for all of us. However, the boys from Palma Campania who will participate have created quadrilles that evoke the Amalfi Coast, and we felt it was our duty to provide them with the right setting to perform”. For the future, Alfonso, together with the associations, is thinking of having a permanent space just for the Grand Carnival Maionese. “A home where anyone during the year can go and work at any time – says Pastore – The intention is to convey the value of this event beyond the city of Maiori. Our ambition is that it becomes a source of pride not only for the Amalfi Coast but for all of Italy.” 

Useful information

Gran Carnevale Maiorese, Sunday May 8 and 15 in Maiori, grancarnevaledimaiori.it 

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