A Unique Cultural Experience Never Organised Before​. Immerse yourself in the local culture and discover the 3 most intriguing Fire Festivals of Abruzzo.

St Anthony can be considered the Saint most loved by the Abruzzesi, and below I’m sharing my experience and some information on what for me are the most intriguing St’Anthony celebrations of Abruzzo where you must go. The 3 celebrations below usually happen in chronological order and can all be visited during the same week of the 17th of January. Along with facts and information, I’ve suggested towns and nearby interesting areas worth seeing during your visit, so you can extend your trip during winter in Abruzzo.

We are very proud to be supporting these traditions, and for this reason, we have organised for the first time, a 9 day TOUR through Abruzzo featuring the 3 most famous Fire Traditions of Italy. Visit our dedicated tour page to discover more about the tour.

  • 12-20 January 2020 (2 spots left)
  • 10-18 January 2021 (8 spots left)

 

Fara Filiorum Petri – Le Farchie 

16th of January

before the procession at Fara filiorum petri

before the procession at Fara filiorum petri

Respecting the tradition each 16th of January the faithful Faresi (locals) of each district, accompanied by the sound of accordions and trumpets, carry by shoulder the Farchie in the main square of Saint Antony’s church.

The 13 Farchie from each district are accurately assembled by the locals from a set of wild reeds (previously collected) to form a huge torch with a diameter of 80cm and a height of 8 meters (26 feet).

carrying by shoulder the heavy Farchie

carrying by shoulder the heavy Farchie

In a fascinating and dangerous ritual, the farchie are manually raised from the ground. At the first shadows of the evening, the Farchie begin to glow illuminating the night and around them, locals and visitors will sing, dance and drink wine and fried sweets in honour of Sant’Antonio.

raising ritual farchie

raising ritual farchie

To fully experience the Farchie, you must arrive some days before the procession, going around the different districts (better accompanied by a local) and assist the locals in preparing the ‘farchie’. To experience the Farchie preparation together with the locals is something unique, where the cold night will be accompanied by traditional ballets, songs, food & wine.

pumpkin, pepper & fried sardine offered by the local ladies in abruzzo

pumpkin, pepper & fried sardine offered by the local ladies in abruzzo

”This moment for me was something magical, I felt part of the community from the first moment…and watching the Farchie glowing takes away all the tiredness accumulated for days & tension that something could go wrong. A touching moment, full of hugs, joy, wine & songs. Connections that will stay with me forever”. Marino Cardelli

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Villavallelonga – The Carnival & Dance of Puppets

17th of January

dance of the puppets villavallelonga

dance of the puppets villavallelonga

You will be surprised to see a weird carnival on a cold 17th of January. Anthropologists from all over the world come to this unknown village to study this weird and long-lasting tradition.

On the afternoon of the 17th, accompanied by the live band, the locals wearing weird masks, costumes and inside huge paper puppets called ‘Pupe’, they parade through the main street of the town, before arriving at the main piazza where they exhibit in the traditional dance ‘ballo’. After the show, the paper puppets will be set on fire and the locals will serve everyone drinks and fava beans from huge copper pots.

cooking the traditional fava beans soup abruzzo

cooking the traditional fava beans soup abruzzo

The paper puppets are built weeks before the parade, they have an iron structure and then are covered with paper, glue and then painted to look like humans. The locals get under the puppets and carry them through the town.

the puppets on fire at the carnival in villavallelonga

the puppets on fire at the carnival in villavallelonga

Last year I went there with my friends as one anthropologist I met told me about this weird and unknown tradition. We arrived at the foot of the town and we couldn’t see anybody. We were wondering if this was the right place and time and when was about to call my friend to ask for info, we saw the parade coming from the side of a little street. Was crazy! People dressed up in the weirdest costumes, dinosaurs, huge puppets, walking tables. We parked and the fun time began.

Last time I saw my friends

Last time I saw my friends

The two friends of mine were ‘kidnapped’ from the sidewalk and thrown under the donkey-puppet. A memorable experience that ended at night with fava beans for everyone.

 

 

Cermignano – Lu Sand’Andonje

Weekend of the 17 of January

folk music groups in abruzzo

folk music groups in abruzzo

In this small village of the province of Teramo every St Anthony’s weekend, they celebrate ‘Lu Sand’ Andonje’….Ballets, songs local folklore, local food & wine warming the cold nights. This is a 26y old celebration where folk music groups from all around the region come together to the town. 

traditional songs of abruzzo

traditional songs of abruzzo

They get together and in groups, walk and sing around the village of Cermignano. The local association who organise this commemoration also provides the visitors with eating, drinking areas and artistic exhibitions. When you go there, don’t miss to eat ‘Li cillitte’ (birds), a traditional St’Anthony dessert that looks like a bird and filled with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo jam. The best pairings is ‘cellit’ and Vino Cotto, a traditional sweet (cooked) wine from Teramo.

Cellit, St'Anthony's abruzzo sweet pastry

Cellit, St’Anthony’s abruzzo sweet pastry

food & local drinks of Abruzzo

food & local drinks of Abruzzo

One interesting fact told me by a local experienced friend is that, if you can find the oldest dressed-up St’Anthony (usually with a long beard) and you pull his beard, you are guaranteed to find your loved one.

A picture with St'Anthony & the Devil

A picture with St’Anthony & the Devil

Conclusion

These celebrations are unique opportunities for you to immerse yourself into the local culture, bond with the locals and have remarkable & touching experiences that will stay with you forever. 

Below I’m suggesting what could be itinerary ideas for you to discover Abruzzo as you will visit the fire festivals or on any other occasions.

 

Itinerary ideas of places to see near Fara Filiorum Petri

skiing with seaview in abruzzo

skiing with seaview in abruzzo

  • Pretoro, part of the ‘Borghi più belli d’Italia’ Most beautiful villages of Italy, this stone village is fascinating and here you can visit some of the few-remaining wood artisan workshops. One artisan not to be missed is the 86 years young Mastro Tonino;
  • The medieval town of Guardiagrele and its ‘sise delle monache’ in English ‘nun’s tits’ a traditional spongy dessert;
  • Passo Lanciano: set your nav to Majelletta and admire the fantastic sea-view directly from the ski slopes at 1650mt;
  • Church of San Liberatore a Majella in the town of Serramonacesca and the Alento Gorges;
  • Hermitage of Santo spirito a Majella and San Bartolomeo in Legio.

 

Itinerary ideas of places to see near Villavallelonga

alba fucens and the roman site

alba fucens and the roman site

  • Alba fucens with its Roman site and amphitheatre;
  • Celano, with its town and castle, from where you can admire the spectacular view of what once was the Fucino lake;  
  • Ovindoli, with a fantastic skiing resort;
  • L’Aquila city, also known as the Florence of Abruzzo or the Salzburg of Italy.

 

Itinerary ideas of places to see near Cermignano

fortress of Civitella del Tronto

fortress of Civitella del Tronto

  • Montegualtieri and its unique triangular tower;
  • Teramo city, once an important Roman city;
  • Medieval town of Campli, rich in art and history, as well as food, very famous for the ‘Scala Santa’ Holly Stairs, its Necropolis ‘porchetta’ (slow-roasted pig) and truffles;
  • Civitella del tronto, one of the most beautiful towns of Italy with the largest fortress and narrowest street of Italy;
  • Castelli, one of Italy’s most important ceramic traditions; 
  • Church of Santa Maria di Ronzano: one of the most beautiful Romanic churches of Abruzzo erected in 1170 and built with local white stones and hand-painted;
  • Cerrano tower and its marine protected area.

 

Visit our dedicated tour page to discover more about the tour.

If you enjoyed the post, please help us to share these beautiful traditions.

For the latest culinary & cultural news of Abruzzo, follow me on my FB & IG pages experience.bellavita

 

Grazie,

With love from Abruzzo,

 

Marino Cardelli

Marino Cardelli

Marino Cardelli

Food & Wine Enthusiast, 2nd level Qualified Wine Sommelier, Licensed Tour Leader of the Abruzzo Region, Official Abruzzo Smart Ambassador. I try to create environments & opportunities for Abruzzo's small business, young people and our traditions to thrive through sustainable tourism.

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