Carnival of Sauris

06 September 2010 Published in Friuli Venezia Giulia Itineraries
Carnival of Sauris in Carnia Carnival of Sauris in Carnia


Carnevale Saurano - Zahrar Voschankh Camminofriuli

The carnival of Sauris in the mountainous Carnia territory of Friuli Venezia Giulia typically takes place in the second half of February. Sauris is, in fact, the highest town in the region and it is very cold at this time of the year. Perhaps that's why the original German inhabitants chose it as their new home from home.

The carnival is one of the oldest in the Alps and the language, traditions and architecture of this past are still present, not least in the name of the carnival 'Voshankh'. It is characterised with wooden masks and walks in the local forest with lanterns along snow filled paths.

The main protagonists are the 'Rölar' and the 'Kheirar'. The Rölar is a magic, armed, demon figure whose role is to warm everyone up for the evening's events. His name derives from 'rolelan', the bells attached to his body which ring out as he moves.

The Kheirar is the king of the masked demons who leads the ceremonies. He carries a broom to beat the doors of the inhabitants in Sauris where he wants to enter. He brushes their floors and introduces a couple of masked creatures. One is ugly (schentena schembln) and one beautiful (scheana schembln) who do a little dance to the accompaniment of an accordion. The mask are based on original models found the Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions of Tolmezzo.

The Carnival evening ends with stops in the typical wooden and stone 'baite' where mulled wine is offered and the fine local ham.

Christmas Market in Sauris

If you find yourself in Sauris just before the Carnival period, then visit the Christmas market. It is situated in the heart of this most characteristic mountain town and is full of carved wooden statues and toys, unique and beautiful ornaments, household decorations and gifts of every type. During the market period there are also concerts, itinerant musicians and carol singers, all adding to the spirit of Christmas. Not to forget that the town is home to one of the sweetest and most famous types of prosciutto that is offered in packaged sets all ready to put under the tree.