Text and pictures © 2007-2023 Guillaume Dargaud
Last updated on 2021/11/05
"God bless those pagans." — Homer Simpson.
Many little villages in central italy have maintained interesting traditions. Here in Bacugno there's a couple of traditions that relate to old fertility rites and predate the christian church by a long way.
Left: 'The poets'. In the antique olympic games there used to be poetry contests. I always wondered how it must have been possible. Here's an example where they are given a theme and take turn improvising in public.
Right: On board a tractor bringing up the volunteers. Departure at midnight, or much later depending on the tractor and the inebriety factor.
Left: A tree is fell and leaves are collected.
Right: Walking towards the summit of Mt Boragine ('La Scarpa' as it is locally known) with tree leaves.
Left: Dawn in the cloud on the summit. Rain is not far off.
Right: Preparing the support hole for the 'Biffa' (pole).
Left: Bringing the new pole in.
Right: Leaves are tied to the pole.
Left: The pole is raised and attached with lines while onlookers are hiding from the rain and the wind.
Right: Walking down the mountain afterwards, down the 'solco', a trench that goes for hundred of meters from the summit pole in the direction of the village church. Or rather in the direction of the pagan temple which predates it. Usually pics and shovels are used to dig it anew, but this time everybody's too wet.
Left: In the small village of Vetozza, the 'solcatori' are given breakfast, and can even pull off a dance if they still have the energy.
Right: Taking a break before the rest of the walk towards Bacugno.
Left: The 'Biffa' once installed right below the summit.
Mt Boragine is actually a nice summit to do with a mountain bike.
Left: A Madonna is later walked around the village in a procession...
Right: ...along with a much less christian white bull.
Left: And the bull is made to kneel in front of the church building with crowds watching.
The submission of old pagan rituals to the church is very obvious here, indeed this ceremony is called 'the obsequious bull'. Bulls were symbolic in all bronze-age mediterranean cultures and are still involved in some places such as the spanish corrida, the running of the bulls in Pamplona, etc...
Right: The white bull kneeling in front of the crowd... and the church.
Left: Another lovely tradition that happens a few minutes later is the 'donut throw' (lancio delle ciambelete).
Right: Young girls throwing donuts to the public. Yet one more fertility ritual dating to a neolithic past ? The village takes it name from the Vacunea goddess.
Left: The donut throwers taking their job at heart.