As the air warms up, spring explodes in all its beauty in Abruzzo. It’s time to go out, enjoy the sun and a picnic, and join one of the numerous enogastronomic or cultural events across the Region. Not just ordinary events, but traditions which have been handed down from generation to generation for centuries and that are still alive in this undiscovered Region in Central Italy. There’s so much to see and do in this time of year that you’re only spoil for choice. Here’s our selection of the best of spring events across Abruzzo to help you plan your next visit to undiscovered Italy.
COSTUME DI SCANNO
Driving from Sulmona through the scenic road of the Sagittarius Gorges, you will discover one of the most gorgeous areas of Abruzzo. It’s no surprise that this area has attracted many visitors in the centuries, from the Dutch Artist M.C. Escher to renowned photographers like Henri Cartier Bresson and Mario Giacomelli whose shots of Scanno have raised attention worldwide. One of the elements of greater attraction has been the traditional costume worn by the women in Scanno. Women have always played a predominant role in this village, since thier husbands used to spend several months far from the village due to the transhumance. The dress has become a symbol of identity for the women in Scanno. In 2007 Claudio D’Alessandro and his wife, who were celebrating their 25° year of marriage, decided to bring back to life the tradition of the nuptial parade as they had during their wedding, with the mission of keeping traditions and memories alive. Since then, their Association has been holding an annual event which has become one of the most important cultural events in Abruzzo. During the week of celebrations, it is possible to witness the ritual of the dressing, join the nuptial parade, photography exibitions and immerse yourself in the timeless atmosphere of the village.
SNAKE FESTIVAL IN COCULLO
Of ancient origins, the tiny Medieval village of Cocullo is known worldwide for the unique event of “Festa dei Serpari”, held each May 1st in honour of San Domenico Abate, the Patron Saint of the village. After about 1000 years from the passage of San Domenico in Cocullo, the devotion of its inhabitants is stronger than ever. San Domenico, who has been a very popular and venerated Saint along the centuries, is believed to protect against snake bites, toothache and rabies. Each March, as the snow starts to melt down, the expert snake catchers start to catch snakes that will be kept safe in wooden boxes. On the day of the celebration, worshippers come to Cocullo from all over the world. The first rite of the day is when the worshippers go inside the small San Domenico Chapel to ring a bell using their teeth; traditionally, this is believed to protect from toothache. At noon, the snake catchers adorn the statue of San Domenico with snakes, and the procession starts.
BANDERESI FESTIVAL IN BUCCHIANICO
The Banderesi Festival in Bucchianico undoubtely is one of the most colorful and joyful Festivals of Abruzzo. An explosion of handmade paper flowers, traditional music and floats along the streets of this charming town in the Province of Chieti. This Festival, which is held annually at the end of May, celebrates the victory of Bucchianico over the town of Chieti, thanks to the intercession of Sant’ Urbano, the Patron Saint of the town, who became Pope in 223. The legend tells that when the town of Chieti was on the point of invading the town of Bucchianico, Sant’Urbano appeared in a dream to the chief of the soldiers (called “sergentiere”), suggesting him to make the soldiers wear the red and light blue bands (here’s the origin of the name “banederesi”), and run along the town walls in a kind of zig zag movement (called “ciammaichella”) in order to look more numerous. The trick worked, and the soldiers of Chieti gave up. The feast also commemorates the escape of farmers from the countryside to the walls of Bucchianico under the threat of the town of Chieti. Eleven floats and more than 1000 characters animate this unique festival.
It is possible to follow the event in streaming on the website Bucchianico.net
LE VIRTU’ TERAMANE
“Le virtù” is a special dish made up of 28 ingredients whose origin goes back to olden days. According to the tradition, it was prepared to leave the strong winter behind and to welcome the spring season, symbol of fertility and birth and it was a way to celebrate to the Goddess Maia. Soon families started to consider the 1st May meal a special meal and around the table they made important agreements and decisions. They made binding relationships and even a marriage could be arranged during the meal. Being invited or not for “le virtù” became a pivotal event that could generate strong bonds or create never-ending conflicts. The dish combines the ingredients preserved during the winter with those of the early harvest of spring. It is a veritable triumph of flavours: 7 kinds of legumes, 7 fresh vegetables, 7 types of pasta and 7 types of meat. The recipe requires a special attention: the true secret is to cook the ingredients separately and then mix them and serve with grated cheese. If you want to try such a delicious dish and enjoy its taste, you need to come to Teramo and nowhere else.
Despite not being a traditional event, Cantine Aperte (open wine cellars) is one of those events that shouldn’t be missed in this time of year. Two intensive days of guided visits and special wine tastings across the best wineries of the Region. An experience that all wine lovers should add to their bucket list. Abruzzo is usually referred to as the “greenest Region in Europe”, but you must know that Abruzzo is also a wine Region. The history of winemaking in Abruzzo has very ancient roots, but it’s in the last decades that it has started to raise attention and awards, thanks to favorable growing conditions and the work of passionate producers. Not only Cantine Aperte is a chance to taste the best regional wines in selected wineries, but also to discover the incredible gastronomic and cultural heritage of Abruzzo.