Cycling to the carnival in the Valli del Natisone in search of the Blumari

The Friulian foothills are blessed today by a soft winter sun that makes riding on these roads pleasant. So I decide to go for a climb, one of the most classic for the cold winter months: the Canebola/Bocchetta Sant’Antonio climb: 9 km but never difficult, starting from the beautiful village of Faedis. Once you reach the summit (788m asl), where the view embraces the whole of Friuli, instead of coming back down I decide to lengthen the tour, continuing downhill towards Piano di Fraccadice, before climbing back up to the right just before the Slovenian border (this time with 3 difficult kilometres and some uneven asphalt, arriving at 854m asl) and quickly descending to the village of Montefosca by circling Mount Joanaz.

And it is to Montefosca that I want to take you. It is a small hamlet in the municipality of Pulfero and along with the neighbouring village of Paceida, it stands in splendid isolation and has preserved, despite continuous depopulation, one of the most unique traditions of the Alpine carnivals: the Blumari.

The Blumari are actually the young, conscription-age people of the village (so it was once, but now the group includes people of all ages) dressed in white, with bells tied to their backs and wearing a straw headpiece shaped like a tree with leaves of strips of coloured paper. They have to cover a 4 km circuit around the two villages (Montefosca and Paceida) trying to keep their costume clean. They have to do as many circuits as there are young Blumari, normally from 5 to 11, but always an odd number, taking only 2 breaks per lap, during which they can eat and drink but must still jump to make the bells ring. This ritual serves to drive away the winter and to awaken spring and also to mark the passage to adulthood of the young conscripts; a sort of initiation rite. All this happens on the last day of carnival.

“Pust” the carnival in the Valli del Natisone is something extraordinary, much felt by the inhabitants. Every village or valley has its own masks, which are very colourful and cheerful. I invite you on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 February 2018 to come to San Pietro al Natisone: there will be a parade of all the masks of the Valli, including the Blumari!

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