Abruzzo is scattered with ancient villages where, especially in summer, many events animate the city life and attract tourists even from far away. These are festivals, historical re-enactments, fairs or religious celebrations. It’s the perfect opportunity to discover beautiful landscapes, taste the excellent traditional dishes and, why not, learn something new about the history and culture of our country.
These villages are usually more lively during the summer, but this period is also the most crowded. So what about enjoying the first warmth of spring organizing a trip in April? Here many events are already programmed, the weather is great and the traffic is not intense.
In this article we propose some of the main events in the villages of Abruzzo in April and May for a refreshing, relaxing holiday.
The villages in summer compete to offer their traditional dishes in the famous festivals called in Italian “sagre”, gastronomic events lasting several days dedicated exclusively to one or two specialties, set in the picturesque frame of the villages and sometimes accompanied by flea markets and concerts by international artists. Here you can discover many little gastronomic delights, intense experiences that you will bring home with you very vividly after the holiday.
At the end of April, for example, Lama dei Peligni, an ancient village in the province of Chieti whose origins date back to prehistoric times, offers the “sfogliatella” festival. The sfogliatella is a pastry filled with grape jam, black cherries, walnuts and cooked must. People there are so proud of it that they organize a competition for local producers to elect the best pastry.
On the first of May, tourists from all over Italy arrive in Teramo to taste the Virtù, a traditional dish that requires a very long preparation and contains the leftovers of the winter pantry. This soup celebrates the arrival of the warm season.
Finally we want to point out the feast of the omelette (“frittata”) in San Valentino in Abruzzo Citeriore (Pescara), another ancient settlement with a valuable artistic heritage. The festival usually takes place at the end of April and offers many varieties of omelettes combined with different ingredients (onions, potatoes, vegetables, etc.) and excellent wine. The program usually also includes musical entertainment.
It is perhaps in religious celebrations that we see the most unusual and characteristic aspects of local popular culture. During the Easter holidays every small town has festivals and processions on the calendar, but here we want to tell you the most peculiar.
On Good Friday night in Anversa (L’Aquila) the Torchlight Procession takes place, an extremely evocative event that has been repeating itself unchanged for a very long time: the procession of the dead Christ is led by statues carried by women dressed in black and accompanied by seven maidens (the seven sorrows suffered by Christ) in traditional costumes. The village is illuminated only by the fires of the torches that follow the procession, while a chorus of voices sings religious songs.
Equally picturesque is the procession called “Madonna che Scappa” (“Virgin Mary running away”) in Sulmona (L’Aquila) a re-enactment of the meeting between the Virgin Mary and the Risen Christ. The event, very well known abroad for its absolute peculiarity, is very complex and involves various characters that interact in different places in the town center. This ritual is thought to date back to the beginning of the seventeenth century.
Keepers of ancient traditions, the villages annually recall the main events or their outstanding history with re-enactments in costume, festivals and gastronomic events.
In Sulmona at the end of April the Feast of Fires takes place, in which the citizens, divided into teams according to the neighborhoods, challenge each other in a sort of knightly joust, in games such as running with the sack or the tug of war. At the end, the main square is illuminated by the lighting of a pyre prepared during the games. The program of the event is always very rich and includes food, music and other small traditional events.
Finally, the day after Easter in Tagliacozzo (L’Aquila) they celebrate the peace stipulated in ancient times by the three near villages, Gallo, Poggio Filippo and San Donato, each one of them symbolized by a statue of the Virgin Mary carried in procession. The event is enriched with traditional costumes, music and lights.
Exhibitions and markets
What better opportunity to browse the local products and handicrafts and perhaps discover some small treasures to bring home as a souvenir?
On the day dedicated to San Giuseppe (Saint Joseph), March 19, in Teramo and Giulianova (in the province of Teramo) two fairs are held that take up the whole day and bring local handicrafts, clothing, gastronomy and other small curiosities in the historical center of the town.
In Castel di Sangro (L’Aquila), instead, the ancient fair of San Marco is held on April 25th.
The dates of the events can be variable. It is always a good idea to consult an updated calendar.