This winter festival is unique to Agnone, in alto Molise,which is believed to have originated as a Samnite festival of fire when the torches, or ‘ndocce’ were used during tribal shifts that usually took place at night, as s source of light.
Later during Christian times, this tradition of burning torches continued as a festive way for the community to light their way across the fields to church in the town centre. There is one main event on the 8th of December, for the annunciation, and another smaller one on the 24th. After the 9th Century, local farmers began to take up the tradition, using these torches to illuminate their paths from the countryside to the many churches in the town of Agnone on Christmas night. Different traditions reflected the changing times; in the middle ages it was believed that the fire would ward off witches, later the torches were built ever higher and larger for the youth of the town to impress a chosen girl. This ardour could be quelled by a bucket of water if she was not impressed!
After the parade to St Anthony’s church, the Nativity would be staged, when the burning torches were thrown on a bonfire to symbolise the casting out of negative feelings and a renewal for the year to come. The staging of the nativity is one of the features of today’s festival on the 24th of December.
The enormous ‘ndocce, 3 to 4 meters high, are torches made of silver pine, indigenous to the region, with bundles of dried broom held together by twine. A group old men, well trained in this traditional craft, start to prepare the torches in the middle of summer: it is a long and laborious process. First they shape then dry the wood, shape again, and finally form fan-like structures. As many as 20 torches can be assembled together to form one structure. These are carried by men wearing long dark cloaks and black hats or hoods, beautifully lined and in heavy wool. This costume is derived from the ancient cloaks of the Samnite warriors.
The lost tape of the legendary jam session between a famous Italian band and Jim Hendrix is the catalyst for a trip across Emilia in an old Volkswagen van driven by Freak Antoni, who is accompanied by his daughter Marguerite.
An evening with Simonetta Agnello Hornby as she discusses her latest novel, La Monaca.
We are pleased to announce that the best-selling author, Simonetta Agnello Hornby, will present her latest work, ‘La Monaca’. This remarkable historical novel opens in Messina on 15th August 1839 and follows the protagonist Agata who finds herself torn between her spiritual inclinations and the pull of the outside world.
The Swedish Academy, when it conferred the Nobel Prize for Literature on Dario Fo, motivated thus its choice: “Dario Fo… who emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden… He if anyone merits the epithet of jester in the true meaning of that word. With a blend of laughter and gravity he opens our eyes to abuses and injustices in society.”
Following the Milan Furniture Fair, May is the time to contemplate and debate design in Italy. The Design Museum has teamed up with Peroni Nastro Azzurro, who are continuing their support of Italian design, to create a touring programme of five panel discussions led by major figures in Italian design.