There are so many things to do in Abruzzo in summer! Lazing on the beach is great but to get to know our beautiful region better make sure you check out some these events to understand local life and traditions. There is something going on almost every day: big festivals, smaller local celebrations, village feasts. Here are just a few of my picks of the top events not to miss this summer.
Loreto Aprutino (PE), June 8-10
The festival is celebrated 50 days after Easter, so the dates vary every year. On Pentecost, the beautiful town of Loreto Aprutino, celebrates its patron saint, San Zopito. For three days, the locals will attend church services, participate in religious processions, enjoy live music and street food. The most interesting procession re-enacting the arrival of the saint’s relics will take place on Monday evening. A large white ox decorated with bright ribbons and pompoms will carry an Angioletto, a little girl dressed in white with a flower crown on her head. Accompanied by bagpipers and a group of farmers, the majestic ox will slowly walk through the town’s historic centre stopping at several churches to kneel. One of the stops will be at the noble palace of the Valentini family, the famous wine producers. They will treat everyone to tarallucci biscuits and wine.
The festival’s origins go back to an event in 1711. A local farmer Carlo Parlione worked with a white ox in the fields. He didn’t stop working when the religious procession that was bringing the saint’s relics approached Loreto Aprutino but his ox kneeled at the sight of the cortege. At that moment, a sick farmer’s relative was miraculously cured. For more details see the event’s Facebook page.
Pescara, July 8-22
The International Jazz Festival in Pescara is turning 50 years this summer. Over the decades, it has hosted such famous jazz stars as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis Group, Dizzy Gillespie, Tracy Chapman and many others. During the two weeks of festival there will be 24 concerts, many of them free, at different venues across the city. I love the great atmosphere that it brings to Pescara, open air concerts on balmy summer evenings and the buzz of the eclectic crowds of locals. Tickets for some performances such as that of Dee Dee Bridgewater, Joshua Redman or Jacob Collier will sell fast, so don’t wait, book them now. See the full programme on the Pescara Jazz Festival’s website.
Castel del Monte (Aq), July 13-14
During this small but fascinating event you’ll be able to visit old cellars in the town that have been used by local families for many centuries to store cured meats, wine, cheese or keep animals. In each cellar you’ll taste local specialities such as the pecorino canestrato cheese, marcetto cheese made with larvae (it is served without them, don’t worry), a local drink la tromba, pasta dish ciafrechìglie e fagioli, see how locals make cheese and pasta or dye wool with natural pigments. There will be traditional music, dances and a great atmosphere.
Follow the event’s Facebook page for more details.
La Giostra Cavalleresca
Sulmona (Aq), July 27-28, August 3-4
A jousting tournament is held in Sulmona over two weekends in July and August. Popular in the Middle Ages, the event was stopped in the 17th century due to lack of participants. The city of Sulmona revived the tournament in 1994 in a modernised version without bloodshed (in the past, knights and warriors hit each other with spears). Seven neighbourhoods of the city are represented by a rider compete for the highest score by hooking rings with their lances on the city’s central square, Piazza Garibaldi. During the tournament weekends, you can see stunning costumed parades, flag throwing, birds of prey shows. The city’s neighbourhoods are decorated with flags and livery with drummers and trumpeters entertaining visitors. For more details and tickets go to the Giostra Cavalleresca website.
Scanno (Aq), August 14
One of the most beautiful events in Abruzzo, Il Catenaccio (or “Ju Catenacce” in dialect) is a re-enactment of an ancient marriage procession. Locals, dressed in traditional festive costumes, walk the narrow cobbled streets of the medieval village in pairs led by the bride and groom. Now and then, youngsters block their way with a ribbon demanding to be bribed with sweets or coins. The women’s costumes are made exactly the way they were in the 1700s. Luckily, several documents dating back to the 18th century describing the bride’s outfit have survived, which allowed the organisers to recreate it down to a minute detail. The procession finishes in the central square with dances and traditional music. You can see the same re-enactment in May. For the event announcements follow this Facebook page.
Sagra della porchetta
Campli (Te), August 18-23
Put this event on your list of things to do in Abruzzo if are a carnivore! The oldest food festival in the region, la Sagra della porchetta will be celebrating its 48th edition this summer. Every year a dozen or so of porchetta producers gather in Campli to compete for the gold medal. This moist boneless pork roast has been made in Abruzzo for many centuries. For five days the town fills up with divine smells of roasting pork and sounds of music as various bands play Italian pop, rock, indie and Latin American tunes. The best part of the festival? You can become a judge and taste all porchetta for free! The organisers make a call for volunteer judges a few months before the festival, so keep an eye on their website. Please note, when I was writing this post the dates for 2019 hadn’t been announced yet. Please check the exact dates on the website before heading to Campli for the porchetta feast!
The featured photo by Carmine Frigione