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5 Festivals You Must Experience in Abruzzo

If you're traveling to Abruzzo, you should plan your trip around one of these 5 festivals.

Festivals in Italy are unlike any other. Italians celebrate literally everything. There are religious festivals, food festivals, even festivals for historical events, Italians can think of any reason to have a party. Some events are celebrated throughout the country, but then there are festivals specific to each region. Here are the festivals celebrated in Italy’s Abruzzo region. 

1. Festa Della Sfogliatelle

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Held every year in April in Lama dei Peligni, this festival is one of Abruzzo’s most delicious. The festival celebrates the creation of the region’s sfogliatelle, which is traced back to the early 1900s. A woman named Anna was given the recipe for Neapolitan sfogliatelle. However, when she moved to Lama dei Peligni, she adapted the recipe to incorporate local ingredients. These changes included the use of lard along with grape and black cherry jam filling. The festival typically starts at 10:30 with the opening of the food stands. Throughout the day, there is dancing and music along with a sfogliatelle competition. The festival just celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2019.  

2. Altino Sweet Pepper Festival 

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This two day August festival is an annual event for the village of Altino. The festival has been around for 11 years and is the brainchild of the Association for the Protection of the Sweet Pepper. They focus on promoting the use of sweet peppers and improving the production of the vegetable. During the festival, eight local districts compete in a food competition where they create a menu revolving around the sweet red pepper. Each contest has to create three courses for the judges, including dessert. 

3. La Giostra Cavalleresca di Sulmona 

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La Giostra Cavalleresca is a five-day jousting tournament starting on the last Saturday in July. This ancient celebration was started revived in 1994 and has become the city’s most popular event. The town square, Piazza Garibaldi, is transformed into a jousting ring where the festival’s three competitions are held. There is a procession to the field with actors and participants decked out in the medieval best. The riders then navigate the figure-eight set-up, attempting to strike different sized rings with their lances. Afterward, each of the city’s neighborhoods has parties to celebrate their champion’s victory or commiserate their losses. 

4. The Snake Festival

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Every year on May 1st, the citizens of Cocullo gather to celebrate San Domenico di Sora who removed snakes from the local fields in the 11th-century. To honor San Domenico’s achievement the villagers parade his statue, which is covered in live snakes, through the streets. All of the snakes are non-venomous and are released back into the wild once the procession is over. Before the snake parade begins, there is a mass and blessing of soil. The soil is spread over local fields to act as a holy pesticide. There is then a firework display at the end of the festivities. 

5. The Narciso Festival

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This May celebration is unique to Rocca di Mezzo and stems from a desire to celebrate the joys of life. The festival originated after World War II when the town’s youth decided to host a celebration to lift everyone’s spirits after so much loss. They decorated wagons with daffodils from the area and paraded through the streets. Over the years, more than 20,000 visitors have attended this event. There are about seven floats decorated with flowers to help tell a story about the local history or a simple fairytale. At the end of the procession, judges select the winning float.

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