Friday, 27 February 2015

Taranta power rocks S. Pietro Vernotico

San Pietro Vernotico is a small town located between Lecce and Brindisi.

I went there yesterday because the local public library "Giuseppe Melli" had arranged an event dedicated to the folk music (Incontro con la musica popolare)

I was astonished by seeing the parterre of the theater almost full.

Around 300 people were admiring the dancers of pizzica, led by Ramona Visconti.

The local mayor, Pasquale Rizzo, is invited on stage. He says: "I encourage all the citizens to invest on culture. The community has to believe in this project in order to let it comes true.".

Great vision, Sir Rizzo.

Then, it is the round of the folk band Santu Pietru cu tutte le chiai, active since the '70ies.

Folk music is an immense resource for the South of Italy.

Unfortunately, this immaterial treasury begun to languish since the '50ies, the years in which Italy went crazy with consumerism and industrialization.

Pier Paolo Pasolini had desperately warned the Italians of the cultural genocide which was just occurring.

The thousand-year old peasant civilization replaced by the consumerism.

It was not a great deal.

Currently, folk music is alive more than ever. It is getting popular and popular among the youngest generation.

Pizzica and tarantella are for Italy what flamenco is for Spain.

Now, It is the round of Eugenio Bennato.

Once on stage, Eugenio talks about his passion for folk music.

He recalls his Apulian maestros such as Cantori di Carpino and Matteo Salvatore.

Additionally, Eugenio Bennato pays homage to Domenico Modugno: "Modugno had reinvented the folk music".

After having said that, he starts singing a Modugno's song, Malarazza, a fantastic Sicilian song.

All the dancers surround Eugenio, like embracing him.

I have the feeling that Eugenio is very much moved by the warm welcome of San Pietro Vernotico.

Eugenio ends up his concert not before having sung Questione meridionale, Brigante se more and finally Mediterraneo.

long life to you Eugenio Bennato!

Please click here, should you wish to view more pics

Monday, 23 February 2015

Apulian carnivals

Carnival is in the Apulians’ DNA.

Putignano, Manfredonia, Corato, Massafra, Grottaglie, Gallipoli, Altamura, Molfetta are the places with the best carnival.

Putignano is, without any doubt, on the top of the list.

The parade floats of Putignano is huge and numerous.

Additionally, the main attractions in Putignano are held on Thursdays which precede the final parade.

The latest Thursday is called the Thursday of cuckolded.

Someone said that carnival is something tremendously serious.

I agree with that.

The carnival atmosphere helps to leave all the troubles at your back.

Today, I am going to focus on the Manfredonia carnival, one of the oldest among the Apulian ones.

Officially, this carnival is at its 62° edition so far.

However, the tradition of wearing carnival clothes in Manfredonia is much older.

I have been in Manfredonia on the 15th of February to appreciate the Carnival parade.

The entire community there is involved to arrange the Carnival as entertaining as possible.

Those who parade are mainly teenagers.

The local tailors work hard to create colourful clothes. 

There is an old school of papier-maché.

Approximate esteems say that there where around 30.000 people to witness the parade on Sunday.

Most of the tourists who convened were even dressed up.

The parade floats were four.

In my opinion, the most beautiful ones are those portrayed below.

Please click here, should you wish to view more pics

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

The Daunians and opium

The castle of Manfredonia hosts the permanent exhibition of the Daunian stele (VIII – VI century BC).

The Daunian stele are so intriguing because they unveil the culture, the ordinary life of the Daunians living 2700 years ago.

The stele have been found during the ‘60ies around Manfredonia.

Silvio Ferri, archaeologist and member of Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, undertook the challenge of deciphering the stele.

He got involved thanks to Matteo Sansone, a chemist from Mattinata, who first realized the importance of such stele.

Silvio Ferri had figured out that the stele were conceived for funerary purposes.

From my point of view, one of the most original interpretation of stele is given by Maria Laura Leone, researcher and founder in 2001 of

Some of the stele are polychrome, like the one below: red and black.

Such Stele can be divided in male and female ones.

The male ones are more simple as they describe males hunting or fighting.

The female stele are pretty sophisticated as they illustrate man sailing or fishing; women talking, or on procession, or even carrying out magic-therapeutic rituals.

A recurring element portrayed in female stele is opium, (papaver somniferum).

According to deamuseum “The earliest reference to opium growth and use is in 3.400 BC. When the opium poppy was cultivated in lower Mesopotamia. The Sumerians referred to it as Hul Gil “the joy plant”.

Opiates reports that Galen lists its medical indications, noting how opium "...resists poison and venomous bites, cures chronic headache, vertigo, deafness, epilepsy, apoplexy, dimness of sight, loss of voice, asthma, coughs of all kinds, spitting of blood, tightness of breath, colic, the lilac poison, jaundice, hardness of the spleen stone, urinary complaints, fever, dropsies, leprosies, the trouble to which women are subject, melancholy and all pestilences."

Daunians used opium for both shamanic and therapeutic purposes.

Therefore, the thesis of stele as funerary objects evaporates, if you consider that:
  • just few stele have been found nearby Daunian tombs.  
  • the surrounding of Daunian tombs have not returned a significant number of stele.
  • the number of women stele overwhelm the male ones.
According to Maria Laura Leone, the stele reveal the Daunian pantheon.

Therefore, her thesis seems to me much more realistic.

Please click here, should you wish to view more pics