Dolcetto o Scherzetto? Halloween, Italian Style

La Maestra Maldestra


Halloween (L’halloween, my Italian friends called it, pronounced lahl-oh-ween) is not a very Italian festa (holiday) at all, but that has not stopped gli italiani (the Italians) from jumping on the Jack-o-Lantern bandwagon in the last few years and celebrating in style. The famous phrase, “trick or treat?” has even been translated to “dolcetto o scherzetto? in Italian to help the holiday along.

Last year, I spent Halloween in Italy. If you’re a regular reader/follower/subscriber to this blog, you’ll know that during my time living in Siena, I hung out a lot at one particular little osteria and got to be good friends with all the staff there. As Halloween approached, they approached me and asked for ideas for the Festa dell’Halloween (Halloween party) they wanted to throw at the osteria.

I suggested that they order proper orange pumpkins from their fruit and veg supplier (there was nary an orange pumpkin to be found in Siena’s supermercati, just very un-festive yellow ones) and I buzzed around town looking for some goulish decorations to spruce the place up a bit. I helped get the Halloween posters printed so that the fantasma (ghost) came out just right, and spent time trying to get the wording right in both English and Italian for the ads we put up. “Gradita la prezenza in maschera“, for those of you who speak Italian, is how we translated “costumes welcome.

On Halloween afternoon, the boys closed the place early to set up for the big festa. After they assured me that they could certainly carve two pumpkins (something they’d never done before) without loosing any fingers or blood in the process, I left them alone to put the finishing touches on the party preparations and worried about how the pumpkins would look when I got back. When I swung back by later, I was greeted by these two lovely “Giacomo-Lanterns (the Italian version of Jack-o-Lanterns, apparently) which drew crowds to the festa all night:

I like to think they were the only two carved pumpkins in all of Siena last year! The festa was a huge success (went on till 4 a.m., they tell me) and all night people could be seen taking pictures with our unique pumpkins. Please note the Italian touches of vino rosso (red wine) and castagne (chestnuts) alongside our Giacomo Lanterns!

Happy Halloween to all!

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