Tucked away in the heel of Italy’s boot, Puglia is one of the most overlooked corners of Italy. It promises beautiful landscapes lined with picturesque towns and whitewashed ‘trulli‘, offering a relaxed pace of life as well as a glimpse into the ‘real’ Italy. Offering an insight into the lifestyle of the Pugliese are the many local events which take place throughout the year, celebrating age-old traditions, customs and all that is important to the Pugliese people. Read on to learn more about what you can discover during your stay at our boutique hotels in Italy:
Easter in 2017 comes in mid-April, and is arguably one of the most important holidays in Italy, due to its significance in the Catholic faith. Between Maundy Thursday and Easter Monday, many towns and villages across Puglia host events including the Processione dei Misteri and Le Feste di Pasqua, where statues of Christ are carried by penitents wearing special head to toe robes and walking barefoot.
May is when Bari’s largest festival, the Festi di San Nicola (May 9), is held, in honour of St Nicholas, whose bones are interred in the cathedral. It begins with a re-enactment of the arrival of the saint’s relics, with the next day seeing a flotilla of boats carrying a statue of the saint along the town’s coast. The ceremony comes to a close with an impressive firework display. Taranto also hosts Le Festa di San Cataldo (May 10), where a silver statue of the saint makes up part of an impressive procession of boats, before returning to its home in the cathedral. Following its return, the statue is then paraded on a large wagon decorated with colourful flowers. This is a fantastic occasion to take photographs, so make sure you bring your camera.
Brindisi’s traditional event, the Processione del Cavallo Paroto, takes place in June, celebrating when the archbishop St Louis survived a shipwreck and washed up in the town with the Holy Sacrament back in the 13th century. In 2017, the event takes place on June 15th. During the event, the archbishop is paid tribute to by a procession, where a white horse is ridden around the city while carrying a blessed sacrament, followed by representatives of knightly orders, such as the Knights of Malta. A spectacle not to be missed.
July brings a perfect event for culture lovers in Puglia, the Festival della Valle d’Itria (July 14 – August 4). Now in its 43rd year, the town of Martina France hosts an annual celebration of international opera, jazz and classical music over three weeks. There are a range of concerts, many free, for visitors to enjoy.
August is when many Italians enjoy their summer holidays, and so many events are held throughout the month. In Locorotondo, the town and the night skies are lit up with beautiful fairy lights and fireworks in the Festa di San Rocco (July 21). Ostuni also celebrates Saint Oronzo, the patron saint of many towns in southern Puglia, with its Calvacata (August 25 – 27), a unique procession where a silver statue of the saint is accompanied by 30 horses and traditional costumed riders, dressed in red and white. Alongside the procession, there are also live music performances, street decorations, markets and firework displays to mark the celebrations.
Just north of Bari, the Fiera del Levante, one of southern Italy’s largest country trade fairs, is held through every September, showing the best of what the Puglia countryside has to offer in terms of produce and artisanal product. Alberobello also comes to life with its celebration of the patron saints Cosma and Damiano (September 27), where the streets light up with an all-day mass, decorations, live music and street performers, a firework display and a funfair.
Every December, the streets of Noci hold a tribute to chocolate, the Pettole nelle e Cioccolato, though the real emphasis at this time of year is on Christmas, or Natale. During the run-up to the holiday, there are many processions and events. The towns and villages also come to life with fairy lights and nativity scenes (precepi), with some including life-size figurines, or even real people in their scenes.