Torciata di Pitigliano 2019
The unforgettable atmosphere of the bonfire lighting up Pitigliano’s night
19 March 2019
On March 19th the local tourist office of Pitigliano will organise one of the most anticipated events in the village: the 'Torciata di Pitigliano'. It is an ancient rite that mixes Etruscan traditions and Christian rites and consists in burning, during the night of San Giuseppe, some bundles of sticks that turn into a huge and suggestive bonfire. The atmosphere that is created on this occasion in Pitigliano by night will be uniquely special and intensely charming – an original and unforgettable experience. So, if you have decided to spend St. Joseph's Day in Tuscany, take this opportunity to attend one of the most anticipated events of Pitigliano throughout the year.
The hamlet of Pitigliano, one of the most beautiful and scenic in Tuscany, is located in the province of Grosseto (Italy) in the beautiful Maremma. It is one of Tuscany’s tuff towns – something you will notice right from the first Pitigliano images that will capture your gaze while you are on your way here. The village stands on a cliff of tuff and the houses are built right on the rocks creating a unity with the latter. Its origins are ancient, perhaps dating back even before the Etruscan period, and walking around Pitigliano’s historic centre between the narrow streets of stone you will notice that the charm of times gone by is still alive today. So, before the night falls and all the stages of the Torciata in Pitigliano begin, it is certainly a good idea to visit the medieval village of Pitigliano and some of its buildings such as the Fortress, Palazzo Orsini, the Fontana Rinascimentale delle sette Cannelle, the 16th century Medici aqueduct, the ancient Ghetto, the 16th century synagogue and the late-baroque façade of the Cathedral of Santi Pietro e Paolo.
But let's come to the St Joseph celebration in Tuscany and see in detail how it will take place. Celebrations usually start a couple of days earlier with a series of side events such as guided tours and tastings. This will give you the chance to taste some good wine and some typical sweets like the ‘sfratti of Pitigliano': large biscuits made of honey and walnuts typical of Jewish Tuscany. But the 'highlight' of the whole event is the traditional ‘torciata’, the Pitigliano bonfire, a rite that has very ancient origins which date back to pre-Christian times. Back then lighting bonfires was a propitiatory rite celebrated for the arrival of spring: the fire served to purify and symbolise the beginning of the new season, hoped to be fertile and fruitful. Later, and especially from the Middle Ages, the celebration was associated with the Christian feast of St. Joseph in Tuscany and that is how it has come down to us.
At 9.00 pm on March 19th, the first preparations for the suggestive St Joseph bonfire shall begin. The place from where everything starts is the newsagents of San Giuseppe, located along Via Cava di Pitigliano about 2 km outside the town. As the name suggests, it is an ancient road literally carved into the tuff. During the night of March 19th, at least forty people carrying torchlights will cross it, carrying bands of burning reeds to Piazza Garibaldi, where the bonfire will explode. The procession of Pitigliano St Joseph’s bonfire, which takes about an hour to reach its destination, is rather simple and consists of the statue of St. Joseph being carried by two men surrounded by the men carrying the torchlights of Pitigliano dressed in robes with hoods, typical of the 15th century. At around 10 pm the evocative procession will reach Piazza del Comune where a few days before the 'Invernacciu' had been set up, a puppet of reeds representing winter, the season about to pass away. Needless to say, the atmosphere that permeates the old village filled with the light of the torches and then of the bonfire is unforgettable and will give you some great Pitigliano by night pictures! I recommend getting ready with cameras and smartphones! Stay alert right until the end, because the party does not end with the big fire. After it has gone out, at around 11 pm, according to the tradition, women gather the embers and pray to St. Joseph for the success of the next harvest. The ashes are kept inside the houses, as an amulet, until the next Saint Joseph bonfire in Pitigliano. And just like any respectable holiday, even in Pitigliano tuff town, you could not miss the most convivial and enjoyable aspect: hot wine, pancakes with raisins and Pitigliano ‘sfratti’ for everyone!
We’ve really made you want to visit Pitigliano in Maremma, haven’t we? Well... We don’t blame you! Visiting a delightful village such as Pitigliano hamlet and reliving all the magic of an ancient rite is really a tempting offer! You just organize a nice stay in Tuscany for the Torciata di Pitigliano 2019. If then the ancient villages really fascinate you, if you like visiting them, discovering their history, listening to interesting anecdotes and curiosities and maybe tasting some typical products, we suggest you take a look at the fantastic tours section of the 'Villages of Tuscany'. We are sure that you will find the perfect option for you among the many choices available!
Period: 19 March 2019
Event location: Pitigliano (Grosseto)
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