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Bibbiena Historic Carnival: The re-enactment of the Mea

A beautiful fought-over maiden, a class conflict that divides the town, and love, which eventually triumphs, complete with a bonfire to bring peace and a flourishing harvest.

22 July 2022

The historical Carnival of Bibbiena, the most important town in Casentino, 30 kilometres from Arezzo, revolves around storybook themes.

Every year, the traditional Rievocazione della Mea re-enactment takes place here, taking Bibbiena back to mediaeval times, with traditional celebrations in the square, markets, banquets, flag-wavers, and historic buildings open to the public. 

1. At the origins of the legend: the kidnapping of the beautiful Mea

At the heart of the Bibbiena carnival celebrations is a folk legend: at the time when Count Tarlati was lord of the town, in the popular district of Fondaccio, in Bibbiena, there lived a beautiful young washerwoman: Bartolomea, known as Mea. One day, while Mea was taking her laundry home, she was noticed by the count's young son, Marco Tarlati, who fell in love with her to the point of kidnapping her, locking her up in his palace. The misdeed gave rise to a people's revolt, led by Cecco the weaver, who was betrothed to Bartolomea, and to a dispute between factions that inflamed the village: on one side were the fondaccini, named after the popular quarter to which Cecco and Mea belonged; on the other were the piazzolini, the inhabitants of the palaces, in the upper part of the village.

The legend of Mea has a happy ending: to quell the riots, the old count summoned the population to the piazza and returned the beautiful Mea, dressed in sumptuous clothes.