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 spring vacation, describing regional spectacles, tourist attractions, and special events, and sometimes sports. Italian spring holidays have several advantages: You won’t fight the crowds, hotels and other accommodations are easier and cheaper to find, and every region has its own spring festivals. When we say spring, we mean March to May; spring comes early in much of Italy. Start organizing your Italian spring holidays now. Keep reading.
Barile, Basilicata, Italy Way of the Cross spring festival.
Basilicata is a little region of southern Italy with a very small coastline on the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west and a slightly larger coastline on the Gulf of Taranto to the east. You won’t see too many tourists here, which may be just one more reason to visit this traditional region. Its weather may be somewhat cooler than you might expect, especially in the early spring.
Sfilata dei Turchi (Procession of the Turks).
One major early spring festival in this part of the world is the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) Pageant. A great place to experience this Festival is the small town of Barile, population about 3 thousand, with a substantial Albanian influence due to the origin of many people. As elsewhere, the Stations of the Cross represent the various episodes of the Passion of Christ. You will see authentic reconstructions of the Gospel stories, among which are fantasy figures expressing ancestral fears. For example, the "Negro" represents a stranger, and the "Gypsy" is a dark symbol of wealth hiding evil and danger. These are very important figures of popular collective atonement. You will be impressed by the participants’ spirit. Other localities hosting memorable Via Crucis Costumed Parades include Atella on the Thursday before Easter, and on Good Friday Maschito whose ceremony includes both Albanian and Greek aspects, and Venosa. The following day Rionero in Vulture celebrates its pageant which also has Albanian and Greek aspects.
On May 29 the day preceding the festival of San Gerardo, the patron saint of Potenza, a provincial capital of 70 thousand, the city celebrates the Sfilata dei Turchi (Procession of the Turks). According to legend in the middle of the night Saracen pirates navigated their boats upstream on the Basento River and attacked the city. The defenseless inhabitants were overjoyed when the sky lit up and a row of angels appeared, surprising the Saracens and providing them with time to organize their defense. A procession honors Saint Gerardo, the bishop of Potenza, who is said to have accomplished this miracle.
The small town of Accettura, population about 2500, holds its Sagra del Maggio (May Chopping Festival), perhaps the oldest festival in all Italy. To make a long story short two trees are united in a marriage ceremony, said to guarantee a rich harvest. The male or “Maggio” is a tall oak, the female or “Cima” is the top of a holly tree with a lot of branches. The two are carried around town and then ceremoniously united. You will find similar festivals in many other local towns. And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine Basilicata or other Italian wines.
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 www.travelitalytravel.com devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website www.theworldwidewine.com 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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Spring events, spectacles, and tourist attractions in Basilicata