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Carnival and Polenta Festival

The Carnevalino is a festival that takes place in the heart of the hamlet of Sant'Ippolito di Vernio. A historical procession along the streets of the village with around 40 people in costume that take you back in time to the period of the Bardi Counts, the lords of the fiefdom of Vernio. The celebration ends in the square, where everyone is invited to enjoy pasta seasoned with tuna sauce and herring, a tribute to the Christian Lenten tradition. And the feast continues until late at night, with jokes, music, songs and dances.

This special tradition was once lovingly preserved by the Herring Company. In the period preceding the Carnival, a group of bizarre masks, including one holding a cane from which a herring was hanging, went around the houses to collect donations that would make the feast unforgettable. Anyone caught working in the fields was "judged" by the Company and condemned to contribute to the feast.

Still today, the gestatorial chair is part of the procession and during the Carnival it is carried in procession with a paper puppet called the Carnival King, which is burned at the end of the festival as a wish for a good harvest of the year.

The following day, the first Sunday of Lent, in the hamlet of San Quirico, the Polenta Festival or Pulendina is held, a tradition that has lasted for over 400 years. The event, organized by the Società della Miseria, offers three days of events that end with a procession of over 600 participants from all over Tuscany and the distribution of sweet polenta, herring and cod. Every year, around 5000 portions of polenta are served, made with local chestnut flour, a typical product of the Bisenzio Valley.

This festival commemorates a famine that occurred in 1512 due to the looting of Spanish mercenary troops, responsible for the tragic Sack of Prato. The exhausted populations were saved by the generosity of the Bardi counts, who distributed chestnut flour, herring and cod to their subjects.

After the procession, in the square in front of the Casone de' Bardi, the reading ceremony of the Parchment takes place, in which the counts offered help to the people, followed by the free distribution of sweet polenta. In the afternoon, it is possible to enjoy the performances of historical groups, stroll among the stalls of typical chestnut products, such as necci, castagnaccio and sweet fritters, as well as discover local craftsmanship.