The children returned from a day out in Matelica recently, each wielding a Patenta di Mattu – ‘Licence to be crazy’ – well, who knew you needed a licence?
In the middle ages bankrupts were forced to wear a silly hat and walk around the fountain twelve times whilst ringing a bell and shouting ‘I have given away all my possessions and for this no one should ever believe me again’. At which point they were officially registered by the council and all debts cleared.
Given their sense of style I think for Italians the hat was the main deterrent (for the English it would be an added bonus). Nowadays children can run around the fountain seven times and get the Crazy license abd it was with great pride that they reported that they were the first Mattu of the year – they won’t be the last. [...]