There are several ‘parts’ to the celebrations which occur in my Nonna’s village. On the first day, we have la Sagra della Nivola (you can read about that here) and in the days following, there are Masses and processions for saints. Each night of the celebrations, however, there is a festa in the piazza.
This generally means that in the late afternoon/early evening, people begin to slowly filter down into the piazza, the village square. It happens slowly, slowly, until all of a sudden, the piazza is teeming with people.
Musicians are brought in to perform on a stage erected next to the church, and a dance floor is created right in the middle of the square. The first night of the festa, my uncle and I were the first ones up dancing and I didn’t sit down again until I went to bed that night. I danced with my uncles, with my little cousins, with strangers. I danced the pizzica even though I had never seen it danced before, I danced the salsa across the cobblestones, and I bounced around with little children until the early hours of the morning. I danced so hard that first night that I lost an earring!
There is also a tradition which involves several male members of the village dressing in a clown suit. The suit is solid and sits over the upper half of the body like a finger puppet of sorts. The men run around in the suit and everyone else dances and sings around in a circle until finally sparklers burst from the clown’s head and everyone cheers. I am not sure what the origin of the tradition was, but it sure is fascinating to see!
The pupazza (the clown) is followed by more dancing, which eventually dwindles down in the early hours of the morning. That being said – it is not unlikely for some of the oldest attendees of the celebrations to be the last to leave!
After all the revellers have left the piazza, they trundle off to bed (perhaps after grabbing a coffee at a friend’s house) and the village becomes peacefully quiet – that is, until the celebrations begin yet again in the morning!