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  • Writer's pictureGreg and Silvia

Festa Della Bruna

Updated: Jul 3, 2018

Festa Della Bruna is #Matera's most important festival. In fact, for many Materans it is more important than even Christmas and New Year! But what is this beautiful, exciting and quite violent festival all about exactly?

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The festival seems to date back to sometime in the 14th Century when a bishop of #Matera, Bartolomeo Prignano, proposed the introduction of a festival of 'The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary', with the intention of achieving peace in the political and ecclesiastical landscape.

Held on the 2nd of July every year, Festa Della Bruna sees a local artist designing a float (called a 'carro') which depicts a scene from the Christian religion. This float (which carries the statue of the Madonna) is then paraded around the town, accompanied by dozens of horses and musicians. Eventually it reaches the main Cathedral where it leaves the statue of the Madonna and continues to make its way back to the main square. Once in the square, the tradition dictates that all the local young men of the town try to destroy the float, with each person trying to obtain a piece of the float, which they believe will give them luck for the following year. In fact, this part of the festival is considered the second most dangerous part of a festival in Europe - after the Pamplona bull run in Spain!

The history of this festival also includes a range of legends. One legend tells of an unknown girl who one day appeared to a worker in the countryside, just outside of #Matera. She was returning home. The girl asked the man for a ride in his chariot, to which he agreed. On arriving at the gates of the city, near the church of Piccianello, he was amazed to see her become a statue. The Virgin then greeted the incredulous peasant by whispering these words: 'Like so, upon a decorated cart, I want to go every year in my city'.

A second legend instead tells of a probable attack by the Saracens. The Materans, to avert the danger of their icons of devotion and veneration falling into the hands of the attackers, destroyed the attackers' wagons, therefore avoiding the looting.

The third legend concerns Count Tramontano, Lord of #Matera. He had promised to the people of Matera that he would give everything necessary to hold a festival in honor of the patron saint of Matera (Maria Bruna). He even offered to give them a new float every year! To make him keep his promise, The Materans decided that they would destroy the float each year so that he would have to pay for a new one the following year! They wanted to force him to keep his promise!

Whichever of these legends are true, Festa Della Bruna remains the most important day of the year for the people of #Matera. People travel from all over Italy and the world to get a glimpse of this special event as well as to experience the wonderful market stalls and food stands that populate the city during this time. Not to mention the beautiful and impressive light displays and fireworks in the evening.

Next year, we'll be looking into arranging a special La Lucana experience for interested guests who want to come and experience this festival for themselves, so stay tuned or get in touch with us for more information!

If you'd like to come and explore our #Basilicata culture, meet our family and taste some great food then please do get in touch with us via our website. We can't wait to welcome more people to our special region!


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