Time is running out for the Verona Carnival. The entire city is waiting to see who will have the privilege of succeeding Papà del Gnoco, the city of Verona’s iconic figure. The 494th carnival nomination will be selected by a white smoke at Piazza San Zeno, which is located in the San Zeno neighborhood of Verona, on January 21. This year, one of the previous sires will be selected as the star of the festivities during the conclave. Then, the coronation is set to take place in the Gran Guardia Palace on January 23.

The white smoke will determine the choice of the Papà del Gnoco

He is represented as an old man with a long beard, covered in colorful clothes, and wearing a huge red cloak. Papà del Gnoco is unquestionably the king of the Veronese Carnival, as evidenced by his scepter, a massive golden fork with a potato gnocco wedged within, a traditional Italian meat. Papà del Gnoco literally means gnocco‘s father”, and this year, he will be chosen from among the 21 voting sires, who will convene at 10:30 a.m. to determine who will fill the shoes of the Sire.

The meeting, held in San Zeno Square, will conclude with a cloud of white smoke indicating the choice of who will play the mask. In the case of black smoke, however, the discussion will continue until a unanimous resolution is reached. Following that, there was a celebration in the Verona area with gnocchi for all participants.

This, however, is not the typical way of selecting the Carnival King. In fact, the general norm would entail a true electoral match in which the aspiring Papà del Gnoco would have to present their candidacy and attempt to get as many votes as possible. Previously, only San Zeno inhabitants could run in the election, but in recent years, the campaign has been open to all of Verona. However, one thing is certain: the Papà del Gnoco must be a true Verona resident.

A 500-year time travel back in time

It is approximately 1500, and the Adige River in Verona has flooded, adding to the raids of some mercenary soldiers. The citizens were also hungry and desperate as a result of the famine, and they assaulted the San Zeno bakers on June 18, 1531. Some people saved the situation by providing for the poorest at their own expense. Among these, popular legend titles Tommaso Da Vico as the founder of Baccanal del Gnoco for giving basic necessities, most notably gnocchi made from flour and water rather than potatoes, which were distributed in front of the Basilica of San Zeno on the last Friday of Carnival.

Thus, in honor of this historical personality, the oldest mask in Italy and Europe, for which we have specific documentation, was created. Along with her came the Baccanal del Gnoco, a day of reconciliation between the poor and wealthy people.