This the first edition of what we, Genoese people, hope will be a new and long lasting tradition.
We celebrated for the first time the Entierro de la Sardina.
The name of this day-long event is Spanish and so is the event itself and therefore you will now wonder why a Spanish event was held right here in Genoa, Italy.
Many Italian cities and towns – most of them, actually – have a sister city abroad or, at times, more than one.
Having a sister city entails collaborations, cultural exchanges and commercial liaisons and it’s part of an European Union project to encourage exchanges between municipalities across the Union.
Genoa new sister city, as from last November, is Murcia, a city in Southeastern Spain.
When Genoa and Murcia started their partnership last year, they decided they would have a cultural exchange of events and so Murcia celebrated their Entierro de la Sardina in Genoa in May while Genoa will hold an event in Murcia related to the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World in October.
The Entierro de la Sardina means ‘burial of the sardine’ and it’s a long-lasting tradition in Murcia aimed at celebrating the end of the Carnival season and it dates back to 1850.
It is an event dedicated to joy and goliardic spirit and the event was majestic.
Perhaps it is because events had been canceled for over two years or maybe because this was the first edition and organizers really wanted to impress the crowds but, bottom line, the party was truly amazing and much fun.
Murcia – Genoa twin sisters
It started in the morning with the parade of Murcian and Genoese flag throwers, which crossed some of the most important squares in Genoa such as Piazza Corvetto and Piazza De Ferrari.
Flag throwers during the Parade
Towering right in the middle of Piazza de Ferrari was a beautifully handmade and hand painted papier-mâché sardine brought from Spain and displaying the names of both cities.
Sardineros, Spanish performers, distributed generous quantities of toys and small gadgets to children and adults and there were many other fascinating elements in the parade such as flamenco dancers, costume characters on stilts and floating balloons.
At the end of the day parade it was possible to taste some paella, the typical Spanish dish made of rice and seafood was in fact offered free of charge by the city of Murcia. For a fee, it was also possible to taste Spanish beer, traditional sponsor of the Murcia event and the money collected was donated to the voluntary association in charge of improving Genoa’s famous children hospital, the Gaslini Hospital.
The event continued at 9pm when the parade resumed with colorful allegorical floats, gigantic inflatable characters, dancers and musicians accompanied also by the notes spread by nicely decorated musical cars.
It was a kaleidoscope of colors, a whirlwind of music and dance, a mix between past and present that left people speechless.
The parade then reached Piazza De Ferrari for the highlight of the event: the bonfire of the great papier-mâché sardine as part of an auspicious ritual just like the Murcian tradition dictates.
Genoa’s mayor and Murcia’s vice mayor started the fire surrounded by the crowd.
Bonfire of the sardine
The bonfire is normally part of the Lent and it is a symbol of fasting and abstinence.
After the bonfire a huge metal fishbone was all which was left of the ‘sardine’.
The night ended with a DJ playing music while an amazing fireworks display illuminated the sky of a warm night.