I Love Touring Italy – Springtime In Abruzzi
Article by Levi Reiss
The small region of Abruzzi of central Italy lies on the Adriatic Sea. It’s quite traditional and is a fine place to see the “real” Italy. In this region early spring is likely to be fairly chilly, and late spring can resemble summer. March 19 is the Festa di San Giuseppe’s (Saint Joseph’s Day), celebrated in many parts of Italy including Abruzzi. The village of Rocca Pia, home to about 200 people, holds a religious ceremony complete with a traditional meal of beans and pork rind. In the small town of Fara San Martino, population 1600, the focus is on a huge bonfire. The village of Civitella Alfedena, population some 300, lies in the heart of the beautiful Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise that covers three regions and englobes some two dozen municipalities. On March 26 it holds an Exhibition of arts and popular traditions.
On the first Thursday in May the village of Cocullo, which is home to about 300, hosts a Snake Handlers’ Procession in which a statue of St. Dominic, the town’s patron, covered with live serpents is carried through the town. Thousands of people follow this solemn procession as it wends through the village, accompanied by a band. Some people have come for the snakes and others for the fireworks and subsequent banquet. There is even a breakfast at the foot of the hill.
The city of Pratola Peligna, population some 8 thousand, hosts The Festival of the Madonna della Libera in early May. This festival involves literally thousands of people, especially on the weekends. The streets are specially lit and brass bands play all day. Food specialties include hot porchetta and warm roasted peanuts. Major highlights include the welcoming of pilgrims who walk 42 km from the small town of Gioia de Marsi and the procession of La Madonna’s statue from the church through the town’s historic streets. On Saturday night there is a quite spectacular fireworks display.
The last Sunday in May the small town of Rocca di Mezzo, population 1500, holds a daffodil festival attracting thousands of people who have come to greet the spring. Saturday night the wagons are festooned with thousands of daffodils. Sunday afternoon they parade through the town. Unlike many other Abruzzi festivals this one is not rooted in time immemorial. It was started in 1947 by soldiers returning from World War.
The medieval town of Loreto Aprutino, population about 7,500, hosts the Festa di San Zopito which honors their patron saint on the Monday after Pentecost, for example on May 24, 2010. Please note, because the Easter calendar is complicated, this festival may be in summer, for example on June 12, 2011. According to local tradition, in 1711 the remains of the Christian martyr Zopito were in transport from the catacombs of San Callisto in Rome. A farmer tending his fields failed to stop working and pay his respects to the passing procession. But his white ox genuflected in front of the statue of the saint and the urn. The villagers were really impressed and since then every year a white ox is trained to kneel and gets 40 days off from working in the fields. A young child dressed as an angel, holding a red carnation in his mouth and sporting a lace umbrella, sits atop the adorned ox as it wends its way through the medieval streets stopping and genuflecting at every church.
About the Author
Once upon a time Levi Reiss wrote or co-authored ten computer and Internet books. And yet, he really prefers drinking fine Italian or other wine, with the right food and friends. He teaches computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his website http://www.wineinyourdiet.com which focuses on wine, weight loss, health, and nutrition issues.
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