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Our Lady of the Dance

creato da Fabio Bonvicini ultima modifica 01/08/2008 11:12

We go to Basilicata on a three-day pilgrimage full of music and dance

San SeverinoThe Pollino Massif straddles Calabria and Basilicata, or Lucania as the region has been called since Roman times, in the very south of Italy. From July 5th to 7th, the spectacular surrounds of the Pollino National Park are the natural backdrop to the traditional festival of the Madonna of Pollino. The highlight of the festival is the procession up the mountain towards the Sanctuary, which was built at the beginning of the 1700s on the site of Our Lady's apparition to a young shepherd. The view from the Sanctuary is stunning and it commands views over neighbouring Calabria as well as inland towards San Severino Lucano (site in Italian only).

Those of you who shudder at the idea of a long arduous procession under the relentless Southern Italian sun will get a pleasant surprise. As with many religious festivals in Southern Italy the sacred walks hand in hand with the profane, bringing together the whole community in a frenzy of traditional dances and music (generally reed pipes, barrel organs, tambourines and singing) as they weave their way up to the Sanctuary.

Music and dance is so much a part of the festival that both continue...Once at the top the pilgrims proceed to pitch their tents outside the Sanctuary where they will camp for the 3 days, singing, dancing and praising Our Lady. Music and dance is so much a part of the festival that both continue, albeit to a lesser degree, inside the Church, reinforcing the link between Southern Italy and ancient Greek and Roman cultures. Narrative hymns are sung out, tarantellas are played on the barrel organ, while religious songs blend with sonatas on the traditional reed pipes (not unlike rudimentary bagpipes) in this medley of music and colour in honour of Our Lady.
Do go to Lucania for the feast of the Madonna del Pollino. You'll find a people and a culture you thought long-lost. Have faith, open your hearts and you will rewarded with the hospitality of this remarkable land. The colours, flavours, sights and sounds of this ancient mountain are guaranteed to stay with you forever.

Pollino National Park - - All you need to know about Pollino National park
The Pilgrimage - An evocative description of the 3-day pilgrimage to Madonna del Pollino from Rai International's archives

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