In February 2020, as every year, I drove to Schignano, a village located in the mountains on the border between Italy and Switzerland, to continue my long-term project dedicated to the ancient alpine carnival that takes place there. I started this work in 2010 and I had no idea that my 10-year anniversary edition would be so special. An assignment as production manager for a documentary for the Franco-German TV Artè allowed me to stay in the village for twenty-six continuous days. As we conducted the interviews and followed the preparation of the carnival, the global situation regarding the Covid-19 pandemic was getting worse and worse every minute. On the Monday before Shrove Tuesday, the Italian authorities officially blocked the carnival celebrations throughout the country, as social distancing was becoming the norm. The Schignano carnival is famous for its anarchist component, for the rebellious and savage spirit of the inhabitants, so having the carnival taking place anyway had become a challenge to the authorities. We all underestimated the alarm and, despite the ordinances, the constant presence of the police in the village and the threats of heavy sanctions, the carnival was held in any case, although in a limited way.
The unique situation allowed me to be the only “foreigner” in the village and after ten years of working in Schignano I had a completely new experience, a true carnival of the origins. A week later the Italian government put the whole country in lockdown. In a few days from now it will be carnival time again and, sadly, it is the first time in history that the Schignano carnival won’t take place.