Offida is a beautiful medieval town just 20 minutes from us, and is also the home of our friend Dwight who makes great wine.
On carnival Friday this year we went with Dwight and his dog (aptly named “Bacco” after Bacchus the roman wine god) to see the Lu Bov Fint (the fake bull) festival. Records date back hundreds of years describing pretty much the same event.
The townspeople wear the traditional costume called a “lu guazzarò” which looks like a white ruffled nightshirt over pantaloons, all decorated with red. Copious amounts of red wine is drunk, in fact it’s a matter of pride to have your white shirt stained with montepulciano.
Reminiscent of the Pamploma festival in Spain where a real bull is paraded through streets, in Offida a paper machè bull with a rather drunk young man inside is paraded up and down the streets while people mill about socializing and drinking their moltepulciano. The man inside the bull changes over time to time and is escorted by his peers, running into people and getting progressively, well, unruly.
It’s been said that the Bove Finto is pretty dangerous, and I concur. I’m not much one for crowds, especially drunken crowds, so I hung back with the kids and the parents along the shop windows.
Towards evening, in the main piazza the celebration comes to a head with everyone gathered and the bull is symbolically killed and then its corpse is carried about through the streets.
Here’s a good video showing the event:
We had the good fortune of being invited into the house of an old lady who makes exquisite lace. Handmade lace is one of the things that Offida is famous for. (More about that in the future) Her table was laded with sandwiches, raw fresh sausage (a local delicacy) and bottles of wine. Every year she opens her home to friends who stop in, eat something and party before going out for the bull killing.
Hans getting his face decorated
While the men were eating, drinking and decorating each others faces with burnt cork (another tradition) she took me to tour her house and pulled down boxes of lace she’s collected over the years, pieces she tells me she would never sell, they are meant as a dowry for her 2 sons who seem to never want to get married. Soon, on a quiet day, I’ll be visiting her to see more lace.