Hidden treasures

Gorfigliano in Garfagnana: the land of Natalecci

Local Traditions
Natalecci

Gorfigliano in Garfagnana: the land of Natalecci

Garfagnana is a land full of mysteries and legends and Christmas is no exception. On the night of 24th December, in fact, in Gorfigliano, a small village in the municipality of Minucciano perched on the slopes of Mount Pisanino, every year an ancient and fascinating tradition is celebrated: the Natalecci. What are they? These are cylindrical structures constructed by driving a wooden trunk called 'tempia' into the ground around which a large quantity of juniper branches are weaved with a painstaking procedure called 'tessitura'. These structure are truly huge: they can measure up to four meters in width and fifteen in height. 

Do you want to know what they are used for and why they are so big? Their remarkable size stems from the fact that they are burnt the night of Christmas Eve with the intent of making the flames visible from far away. It is an ancient ritual, which is said to date back to 100 BC. and that has survived to the present day as a combination of pagan customs and Christian symbols. 

Construction of the Natalecci begins in Gorfigliano on 8th December, and the time-honoured tradition of weaving the juniper branches is being handed down by the elderly to the younger generations. Why is precisely juniper used? Because it is one of the essences best suited to give rise to a blazing fire. Every year three Natalecci are built and placed on as many raised locations in the districts of Bagno, Colliceto and Fenale. The best viewing point is definitely the Church Square from where you can enjoy a truly unmatched spectacle. When the Natalecci are lit, after the Ave Maria, loud clapping and shouts of joy ensue, after which, according to tradition, the Natalecci must burn for at least twenty minutes. The flames are so high that they seem to touch the sky.

Needless to say the huge bonfires lighting up the darkness of the most magical night of the year are just fascinating and amazing to watch! And what happens after the bonfires have died out? It is then time for people’s spirits to flame up. This is Tuscany, a land of fiery temperaments: heated debates are started over which Nataleccio was the best and why something may not have worked to perfection. Needless to say, discussions can drag on until the following year!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

Latest posts

Livorno: The legend of the Argonauts of the Island of Elba

argonauti
Mysteries & Legends

In the splendid Island of Elba, there are many wonderful beaches and the one called Le Ghiaie is just one of these paradises. It is clo...

View

Pistoia: When Bowie came second at a contest near Pistoia!

David_Bowie
Did you know that...

David Bowie, the charismatic Thin White Duke, has surely played the stages of Tuscany on many occasions during concerts and festivals. ...

View

Florence: Pietro Leopoldo: the great reformer

Pietro_Leopoldo
Historical Curiosities

The Festival of Tuscany is celebrated on November 30. Why this date? It is a tribute to one of the most important figures in the histor...

View

Pistoia: Fernando Capecchi: the manager of the Tuscan band is from Pistoia!

Capecchi
Big Names

Do you remember when Giorgio Panariello played as the character with the raincoat that came on stage holding his mobile phone and sayin...

View

Top posts

Arezzo: Guido d'Arezzo and the invention of the music

Guido-d-Arezzo
Big Names

In Talla and surroundings people have no doubt: the inventor of the musical stave, the inventor of the music notes and also of the mode...

View

Pistoia: The Kiss of the Christs in Gavinana

Il-bacio-dei-cristi
Local Traditions

It is a very ancient but still popular rite. Two large processions that meet up with a Christ on the cross in front of each one: the he...

View

Siena: Piero Carbonetti and his tin drum

Piero-Carbonetti
Local Traditions

Subversive, persecuted, anarchist, homeless, dreamer: it is really difficult to define Piero Carbonetti, Tuscan bred and born and Garib...

View

Pisa: Kinzika, the young woman who saved Pisa from the Saracens

Kinzika
Local Traditions

It was really her, a young woman with an Arabian name, Kinzica, of the noble Sismondi family, to save Pisa from being sacked by Saracen...

View