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This Village in Southern Italy Goes up in Flames Every January: New Year's Traditions in Italy

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

At Creative Edge, we love learning about really unique and interesting cultural traditions- and trust us, there are some very unusual ones-… like the small town in Southern Italy that dresses up real [dead] chickens in little outfits with politically-satirical speech bubbles (yes, this is a real thing- google “Sagra del Pollo Castellana Grotte”).

Coming from the same region (and in fact, the same town) is La Notte de I Fanòve, celebrated the night of January 11 in Castellana Grotte. When our friends in Southern Italy started sending us photos of giant flames in the center of their little Pugliese village, we had to get an explanation…



I Fanòve is actually a celebration of the town’s patron saint, Santa Maria della Vetrana, who liberated the town from the plague. As our friend Marco tells us, who took these photos at last night’s celebration, the Saint told the people, “Bruciate tutti i mobili e vi libererò dalla pesta!”. (“Burn all your furniture and I will liberate you from the plague!”).

For 300 years, they’ve been methodically stacking about 100 huge piles of wood throughout the village every January 11th and when they get so high that not even a ladder can reach their tops, they light them all on fire and the party begins.


With music and warm, traditional foods, the locals gather around and enjoy the beacons of light in the midst of a chilly winter, remembering their patron saint who in 1691, saved the village from the plague.

What other unique cultural traditions and experiences can you discover with Creative Edge?

Creative Edge Travel offers small group and custom trips to the lesser-known areas of Italy. Visit our Upcoming Trips page to see where we’re headed next!

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