Gorfigliano in Garfagnana: the land of NatalecciLocal Traditions
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!
Pistoia: Where does the name of the Ospedale del Ceppo in the city of Pistoia come from?
Mysteries & Legends
Ospedale del Ceppo undoubtedly counts among the many masterpieces that the delightful city of Pistoia has to offer. What fascinates tou...View
Florence: The 'Rificolona': a funny name tracing back to the mischievous spirit of Florence’s people!
Lanterns are now very fashionable and are used at parties and weddings. Florence, however, has always been ahead of time, so much so th...View
Florence: In Florence people are known to be a 'short arm'!
How many times have you heard the expression 'avere il braccino corto' (lit. to be a short arm)? Many I guess. You will also then know ...View
Siena: When the 'drappellone' in Siena was stolen…
Usually, the Palio in Siena takes place twice a year: on July 2nd in honor of the Madonna of Provenzano and August 16th in honor of the...View
Arezzo: Guido d'Arezzo and the invention of the music
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
Pisa: Kinzika, the young woman who saved Pisa from the Saracens
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