May Attractions In Central Italy, Part II

Let's go to central Italy this May...

Don't think of Italy as only a summer destination. There are plenty of things to do and to see during the Italian spring, fall, and even winter. This series of articles provides ideas for your Italian vacation, describing regional spectacles, tourist attractions, and special events, at any time of year. Off-season Italian holidays have several advantages: You won't fight the crowds, hotels and other accommodations are easier and cheaper to find. Whatever time of year you go, every region has its own special festivals. Plan your spring Italian holidays now. Keep reading.

So you are thinking of passing your May holidays in Abruzzi or elsewhere in central Italy. Don’t despair; there are lots and lots of special spring events that simply aren’t available in the good old summertime. Here are a few of them. Get rolling; May is almost upon us. We start our virtual tour in Abruzzi on the eastern Adriatic coast and then proceed south to Molise. There are so many things to see and do in central Italy in May that this is the second of three articles.

St. Dominic Snakes

St. Dominic snakes central Italian spring

On the first Thursday in May the village of Cocullo, Abruzzi, home to about 300, hosts a Snake Handlers' Procession. A statue of the town's patron St. Dominic, covered with live serpents is carried through the town. Literally thousands of people follow this solemn procession through the village. In addition to the snakes, there is a band, fireworks, breakfast at the foot of the hill, and later on a banquet.

The Abruzzi city of Pratola Peligna, population some 8 thousand, hosts The Festival of the Madonna della Libera in early May. This festival attracts thousands of people, on the weekends. The streets are festively lit and brass bands play all day long. Local food specialties include hot porchetta and warm roasted peanuts. Major highlights include welcoming those doughty pilgrims who have walked almost 30 miles (42 kilometers) 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. Stay there until Saturday night and you will enjoy the great fireworks display.

Madonna della Libera

Madonna della Libera central Italian spring

On the final Sunday of May the little town of Rocca di Mezzo, population 1500, hosts a daffodil festival that attracts 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 II.

In many Molise villages and towns the month of May starts with festivals that are dedicated to Santa Maria, San Filippo and San Giacomo. These festivals are often accompanied by fireworks. The little city of Larino, whose population is approximately 7 thousand, hosts the Fešte 'e San Pŕrd (San Pardo Festival and Procession) near the end of the month. This procession includes over one hundred carts that belong to local families. Each and every cart is richly decorated with flowers and pulled by two white oxen. This parade begins at the historic town center, passes by the cathedral and cemetery, and terminates at a historic local church. Sociologists and gossipers can study the local pecking order by noting the carts’ position in the parade.

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About the Author

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his website devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website with weekly reviews of $10 wine and columns devoted to various aspects of wine including wine and food, humor, trivia, organic and kosher wine and lots more.

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May events, spectacles, and tourist attractions in central Italy

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