Bivongi and its Summer Festivals ~ Romancing Italy

Aug 14, 2009

Bivongi and its Summer Festivals

This past week has flown by – it’s already Friday – and although we’ve been busy almost all the time, it seems as if the hours have been filled with nothing.

We’ve spent quite some time at Bivongi, an old historic town that lives its life cycle like a bulbous flower. It goes dormant in the winter months, slowly shows signs of life during the spring and bursts into the glorious color of life for summer and slowly fades away in the autumn.

These last few days in Bivongi, the Wild Boar Festival or “Sagra del Cinghiale” took place. Last night the town celebrated the Sagra del Vino with typical foods, local wine and performances of the old traditional dance, the Tarantella. Onlookers were welcome to spontaneously participate in the square and many did.

During dinner and the performance, the square was filled with out of town guests who came for the festival, but on any given summer night, the square is filled with towns people and vacation renters who come to sit in the metal chairs that skirt the square to drink, chat and watch.

My first encounter with the Italian evening ‘passeggiata’ was in 2006 in Termoli when I emerged slightly groggy from an afternoon sleep in search of food. The main street that led toward the hotel, and the one I had taken by car earlier that day, was blocked to traffic and literally packed with people casually walking up and down the street, looking in windows, looking at others looking in windows and all in their finery.

Calabria may be considered one of the poorest regions of Italy but that doesn’t stop these deeply traditional folk from continuing this Italian tradition and sometimes coming dressed to the nines. At least the women do. Instead of walking the length of a street, they walk the width of the square, back and forth until conversation runs dry, thirst has set in or perhaps more likely, their feet hurt. I’ve seen some beautifully shod feet, in good arch-killing three inch stilettos, put in the miles. (Photo taken at 10:30pm after the normal walking hours)

Where the square is filled with adults and children engaged in good conversation over a drink or two, the unlit doorways and dark alleys attract the myriad of teenagers that converge on Bivongi. From the lack of town gossip, I imagine they are good kids who just find pleasure in something secret. A dark alley in a big city would be the beginning of bad news.

My favorite festival at Bivongi is the Mercato della Badia which will be on August 17 and 18. The second day will end literally with a bang, with fireworks and lost animals. The already tiny streets will diminish even further as stalls are set up to entice the stream of visitors to buy their trinkets, local specialties and ceramics. I’ve already promised myself to purchase some lovely hand painted, southern style pottery for the kitchen since, as my good friends well know, I love to cook so much.



  1. La Passeggiata - one of the best things about Italian evenings! I love it when the hectic piazze and corse become closed to street traffic, kids run the streets while the women walk back and forth and the men chat at the nearby bar. One of the many aspects of "La Dolce Vita".

  2. I was overwhelmed the first time I experienced the 'passeggiata' - all those people out for a walk at the same time. When I was little we'd go for walks and hardly run into anyone else doing the same thing.


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