Visiting Abruzzo during the Easter holidays? You are in for a treat! There are so many traditional events taking place all over the region. Religious celebrations start on the Thursday before Easter Sunday. Almost every village has a procession or re-enactment during the Holy Week. Here is a quick pick of the most interesting Easter events in Abruzzo.
Giovedi Santo in Lanciano
Organised by the local confraternity Morte e Orazione di San Filippo Neri, the procession of Maundy Thursday is solemn and almost hypnotising with its beautiful music written especially for the event in the 19th century. The confraternity members dressed in long black tunics carry flame torches and symbols of the Passion of Christ. The central figure is il Cireneo, who is chosen by the Prior shortly before the ceremony as a reward for his dedication and passion for the brotherhood. Il Cireneo, barefoot, carries the heavy cross in the procession.
The procession starts at the Santa Chiara church at 10pm. You can arrive earlier to see the preparations.
Venerdi Santo in Chieti
You don’t need to be religious to appreciate the atmospheric Good Friday procession in Chieti. The oldest of its kind in Italy, the rite has been taking place in Chieti every year since the 9th century. Local confraternities dressed in hooded tunics walk along the streets of the old town centre carrying various stations of the cross symbols. They are accompanied by 150-members strong orchestra and choir, who play and sing the Miserere.
The procession begins at 7pm at the San Giusto Cathedral. The choir and orchestra start practicing in the morning. There is a shuttle going to the town centre from the free parking space at Chieti Tricalle.
Venerdi Santo in Ortona
On Good Friday, early risers can see the processions of the stations of the cross symbols, which starts at 5am at the Chiesa del Purgatorio. In the evening at 8pm, another procession departs from the Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie. It is lead by a group of 250 women, all in black. In the past, they were mostly widows, who lost their husbands in sea.
For more photos and details see here.
Easter Saturday in Barrea
For over six decades the picturesque village of Barrea organises a beautiful theatrical revocation of the Passion of Christ. In different locations of the village various scenes are enacted by locals: the Last Supper, the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, betrayal by Judas, the crucifixion. It is fascinating to see biblical characters and centurions on the narrow streets of Barrea.
The event starts at 5.30pm. Get there early to find parking and walk around the village.
For more details see the event’s Facebook page
The Running Madonna in Sulmona
On Easter Sunday, Sulmona hosts La Madonna Che Scappa in Piazza, the famous revocation of the moment when Mary sees her risen son. The statue of Madonna is carried by the Confraternity of S. Maria di Loreto’s members along the main street. When they arrive to the central Piazza Garibaldi, at midday, they pull the black mourning cape off the Madonna to release 12 white doves and run towards the statue Christ. The run accompanied by the excited applause of the people in the square and music. The event starts with a mass at 9am. It attracts thousands of people, so arrive early.
For more details see the event’s website.
Easter Parade in Orsogna
Orsogna hosts the festival of Talami, a biblical scenes re-enactments, twice a year: on Easter Monday and on Ferragosto (August 15). It is an old tradition connected with a miracle when Virgin Mary appeared in front of a few locals in the Middle Age. The town of Orsogna announces the theme for the scenes and chooses seven best ideas to be re-enacted. Six floats are put on tractors and one, like in old days, is carried by local men.
This year’s celebration, on April 23, will start at 10am with fireworks and continue with the parade and traditional music. For more details see the event’s website.
Easter Monday Pasquetta
Easter in Abruzzo means big feasts and picnics. On Easter Monday, locals pack picnic baskets and head for parks and picturesque mountain locations to celebrate Pasquetta. Many restaurants offer a Pasquetta menu. The Majella Brewery in Pretoro organises a great picnic on the grounds with live music, street food and their excellent craft beer. Another lively place for Easter Monday is Ristoro Mucciante in Campo Imperatore, where you can buy meat, sausages and arrosticini to grill outdoors.
Featured image by Madonna Che Scappa in Piazza/Facebook