GAVIRATE AND THE CONTRADAS
Gavirate is a town of ancient origins, located along the shores of Lake Varese. We find traces of it since 713. The city is structured as a set of small historic centres, each with its own identity. It consists of the major hamlets of Voltorre, Oltrona al Lago and Groppello as well as the small towns of Armino, Pozzolo, Fignano and Gavirate itself.
Today they are called Oltrona and Groppello. In the past the roads were repaired with gravel and white stones from that came from Gavirate. Once the holes were filled, they passed over them with rollers dragged by men with the task of levelling the roads. Since many inhabitants of the area were dedicated to this activity, they were nicknamed "Schiscia Sarisc" or crushing stones. Over time, the first part of the name was lost and only the reference to stones remained.
Il palio dei rioni
Each district has a team. The Palio dei Rioni put in competition the different districts that competed in sports competitions: a bike race of 2 or 4 km, a bowls challenge, the race with wheelbarrows and with sacks and the tug of war. More recently, boat races and football matches were introduced.
Each district had its own flag with its own colours – which you will find back in the entrance plaques of the different apartments of Ca’ del Re Scartozz – which were then re-proposed in the wagons for the parade.
The victory was rewarded with a cup but above all the title of defending champion.
The history of King Scartozz
In the past Gavirate, although a small town, was known in all the territories that stretched from Milan to the border, for the numerous presence of farmers who worked the land. Every Friday morning, all the farmers found themselves at the market with their products, animating the country from the early hours of the morning. One morning the market suddenly fell silent: the sound of clattering hooves was heard and in the distance the white and majestic horses were seen towing the King’s carriage.
The King and the Queen, to the amazement of the people, got out of their carriage and walked through the streets of the market together with the chief of the guards and part of the court. As they walked through the streets of the market, a distant voice shouted “Long live the King”. The chief of the guards took a look for who had spoken that sentence but saw nothing. The court resumed it’s walk but again a voice shouted “Long live the King”. This time it was The King himself who turned around and saw a child hidden in a corner with a foil of paper in his hands: inside there were eggs. “They are for you, Sir” he said, handing them over to the King. “Thank you” answered the King taking the paper used to wrap the products in his hands. Then, turning around, he said with a powerful voice: “From now on you will all call me ‘King Scartozz’ (King of the paper wrap) to remember the noble gesture of this child”.
From that moment on, whenever the King and Queen went to the market, the people shouted “Long live King Scartozz”.
Following this legend, the inhabitants of Gavirate were nicknamed in their dialect as “Scartuzzit de Gavirà”.
Even today the King Scartozz is remembered during the celebrations of the Carnival of Gavirate.