November 13, 2005
For the week before Ash Wednesday, Bellinzona becomes "La città del carnevale," the "Carnival City." The Rabadan celebrations date back to 1862, and in fact, the word "rabadan" in the local dialect means "uproar" or "hubbub."
During the "città del carnevale," the core of the old city is pedestrians-only, and people buy a pin that will give them access to many parties and activities around this area. There is even a competition held for people to submit designs for these pins, and they are considered collectibles. You can buy the pins online via the official Rabadan site.
On the final Sunday before Ash Wednesday, there is a great masked parade that winds through the old town. Bellinzona ensures that the Rabadan is very family-friendly, however, and the celebrations include the children having their own parade, "Città dei bambini," which local schools take great pride in participating in.
Presiding over the Rabadan are the King ("Sua maestà Re Rabadan") and the Queen ("Regina Rabadan") of the carnival and their court, "Il Re e la sua corte." This is a strictly voluntary position, and as such, the volunteers can hold the position as long as they would like. Each of the towns and cities in the Ticino region have their own king and queen, which are considered "kingdoms," and pay their respects to the Bellinzona king and queen as head of the largest festivities in the region. Likewise, the Carnival courts visit the other Kingdoms throughout the carnival season, which means that the King and Queen can be very busy for the first several weeks of the year. Bellinzona had a king who held the position for many years and was quite popular, who recently retired, and their current king, Dante Pesciallo, has held the position for about 3 to 4 years.
___________For more information, visit http://www.rabadan.ch/.
The dates for 2006 are February 23 to 28.
During the Rabadan celebrations, discount fares are available on local train lines and in conjunction with the pin.
From journal Bellinzona - Gateway to Southern Switzerland