With the 2023 edition of the Carnival, Putignano offers itself as the Italian capital of entertainment from February 4th to the 25th, thanks to an entertainment program that starts with the parades of majestic Paper Giants, papier-mâché floats, and embraces events, guests, music and art of national appeal. The Carnival of Putignano is the longest event in Europe because it starts on December 26th and ends on Shrove Tuesday, February 21st. It is among the oldest and longest-lived in the world. The Godmother of the Carnival of Putignano 2023 will be the beloved TV presenter Mara Venier on the occasion of "Fat Tuesday", the fourth masked circuit of Shrove Tuesday, on February 21st. The theme this year is the world of fairy tales; but reinterpreted in a modern way. It was the official resumption of carnival shows after the pandemic. Over 20,000 people attended the awaited parade and masquerade course. The parade of papier-mâché giants was opened by Farinella, the well-known mask from Putignano.
The Carnevale di Putignano dates back to 1394. The Apulian coast was prey to Saracen raids, assault attempts followed one another and the fear of looting began to constantly populate the nightmares of inhabitants and governors, at the time, the Knights of Malta. There was only one imperative: to protect the most precious things kept in the area from looting, starting with the relics of Santo Stefano Protomartire, which had been kept in the abbey of Monopoli until then. Removing them from the coast and moving them inland seems to be the only possible solution: Putignano, perfect for its position, was chosen as the destination of the transfer. On 26 December 1394 the relics, accompanied by a sacred procession, were moved to the church of Santa Maria la Greca, where they are still kept today. It is at this moment that history intertwines with legend, the sacred with the profane: the story, handed down by oral tradition, has it that the farmers of Putignano engaged in grafting vines with the offshoot technique, as the procession passed, left the fields and work to join the procession joyfully, dancing, singing and improvising satirical verses in the vernacular. Thus was born the Festa delle Propaggini, the one that for 622 years every 26 December marks the beginning of the longest Carnival in Italy as well as the oldest in Europe: the Carnival of Putignano.
Putignano is a city that is not just well known for its beautiful centro storico, but also its traditional simple cuisine. The name of the symbolic mask of the Carnival of Putignano, Farinella, is borrowed from the typical dish of the Putignano cuisine: the farinella. This very fine flour made from roasted chickpeas and barley goes perfectly with sauces and oil, and is exceptional if sprinkled on fresh figs, or combined with a good plate of wild chicory. Putignano's most typical dessert, the intorchiata (or inrcinata) which is a biscuit entirely handmade and with a braided shape with almonds. But also the calzoncello filled with jam, the sasanello made with walnuts, almonds and fig vincotto are delicious ways to end a meal in Putignano.
The rest of the year, Putignano is worth a stop just to see the fascinating old town hidden, almost forgotten, behind the typically modern box buildings which now dominate the view from the countryside below.
Enter the centro storico from the huge empty and modern square along Corso Umberto where it intersects with Via Roma. In contrast, the medieval structure of the historical center is narrow and twisty, full of typically Mediterranean 'vicoli' and 'corti' dotted with wells, balconies and huge solid doors.