Puglia is a land rich in folkloristic traditions. Being once a forced passage for Crusaders directed towards the Holy Land, it carries in each celebration a touch of religiosity mixed to that paganism and magic typical of pastoral culture.
Among the most noteworthy events one cannot remind the “Carnevale di Putignano”, the longest in Italy. It can boast very ancient origins and consists of processions, colourful masks, parades of thematic carts and goliardic “stornelli” in Apulian dialect. It attracts lots of tourists every year from all Europe, and can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
Another event that can't be missed is surely the annual procession of the “Fracchie” of San Marco in Lamis, happening on Good Friday.
A “fracchia” is essentially a tree trunk, about six meters in length, with a central ritf, inside which dry branches, weeds and wood splinters; it's kept together by two strong iron rings to assume the shape of a very large torch.
On Good Friday, the huge torch is loaded on a cart and used to light up the road of the procession that will escort the “Madonna Addolorata” up to the “Collegiata”, where the body of Christ is kept.
Puglia offers also many Easter celebrations in various cities and villages, like Bari, Alberobello, Molfetta and Taranto.
In Alberobello, the most famous city of Trulli, all the citizens cooperates to bring the Passion of Christ to life, an event that draws forth thousands of visitors, both believers and not. In the typical small streets of this wonderful town, more than two hundred young figurants, in two parts and scenarios, give voice to the Gospels. The first part takes place in “Largo Indipendenza”, on a stage about one hundred meters in size, followed by a climb along the roads surrounded by Trulli, with the small streets shrinking around the passing Christ, to arrive at last where the crucifixion will take place, the villa “Don Giacomo Donnaloja”, in front of the Church of S. Anthony, historical seat of the holy play.
Easter in Taranto is unforgettable. The Holy Week is brought to life by ancient catholic rituals, which have passed unchanged for three centuries and still today deeply involve the soul of tourists and locals. The rites begin on Palm Sunday with an auction during which the members of the two major Brotherhoods of the city bid for the honour of bringing in procession the heavy statues.
The most intense moments are the traditional processions of the Addolorata (Holy Thursday) and of the Misteri (Good Friday), leftovers of the Spanish domination in southern Italy. The brothers parade in the so-called nazzicata, a very slow walk lasting fourteen hours, until dawn, with all the heads covered by a hood, bare feet while pulling the statues of the “Vergine Addolorata” and the “Cristo Morto”. The religious procession walks among the crowd, accompanied by a mournful solemn march.
Pasqua a Taranto: Nikozar; Fracchie: Federico Sassi; Carnevale: Allibito