The Falò tradition in Rocca San Casciano

In Romagna, every single borough or village has its own traditional fair. And every event is a good moment to celebrate and meet together. Traditional fairs in Italy have different purposes: celebrate an historical event, gather people living there and remember ancient times. But most of the times, these events have a very strong traditional basis that is linked to a special historical moment in town’s life.

The Falò: history of a rivalry

Its origins are somewhat lost in the legend: someone makes it back to pagan rituals, especially Celtic. It is said that in Rocca San Casciano, since the twelfth century, were lit fires along the banks of the River Montone in order to appease the waters from their ruinous floods. Since 1700 this pagan celebration was mixed with the religious feast of St. Joseph (19 March) and for many years this was the only date on which the fair was held.

Tradition dictated that in the courtyards of each district was a bonfire where people could gather eat, drink and dance. In more recent times the fires are back on the river bank, in their original location, and from there, in the last century, has begun a contest between the four factions that represented the major city districts: Borgo di Sopra, the Borgo Sant’Antonio, Buginello and market. Of these four original districts today there are only two: the Borgo di Sopra and Mercato.

The rivalry of the two sides is almost similar to the Contrada in Siena: the strategies and the activities involve all the borough throughout the year.

"Earth", "Air", "Water", "Fire": these are said to be the ingredients of the feast of the country. The two districts compete by building two huge barns made of juniper and pine needles that take two different forms as if to recall the two different cultural roots that the city has.

Already by the late afternoon the ones appointed to switch the barn, put the late cover of straw. This will facilitate the ignition; it is forbidden to use, additional straw, or any chemical or natural product that can speed up the ignition. A team of technicians with sophisticated tools, analyze the two barns to ensure acceptable performance: these are always moments of high tension between the two parties.

Following the parade

The show comes alive with the sound of the bells that accompanies the arrival of two young torchbearers carrying torches blessed by the priest in the church; tradition wants that the bonfires are dedicated to St. Joseph which favors a good year for the harvest. The torches manufactured by craftsmen with the greatest care, are serving for the ignition, and this is the most impressive moment of the evening: twenty boys to ward are positioned around the giant haystacks.

Later, the party moves to the streets where beautiful parade floats with hundreds of costumed figures, each district has its own themed show with an explosion of music and fun that also involves the audience so that the square is transformed into a giant hall dance, dances that will end the night.

This is one of the most interesting events in the area, during the Eastern period. A night you should not miss!

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