When Epiphany ends, in Filattiera, a medieval town in the Lunigiana hills of Tuscany, the partying doesn’t, despite the January 6th’s holiday’s traditional marking of the end of the Christmas holidays. Here, the saying goes “L’Epifania tutte le feste porta via e Sant’Antonio le riavvia” or
“While Epiphany ends the holidays, Saint Anthony starts them up again.”
Thus, every January 16th, as the sun goes down, Saint Anthony is celebrated with a traditional event called Fuoco di Sant’Antonio. Fear not, this is not a “shingles party” – the disease named after the unfortunate saint. Rather, the celebration begins with a Mass, followed by a procession and then, as the bells ring six o’clock, representatives of the tiny town’s three contrade or areas begin their fire-building show, competing to produce the tallest flames. Meanwhile, in the historical
center near the Malaspina Castle, the town’s inhabitants begin their celebrations, which traditional go on “until it stops”. The unique elements of this party are ghost and witch stories, popular dances and good food. Tradition has it that when the bonfire is spent, inhabitants take an ember to their stalls to bring luck to the animals.
Sometimes, banquets bomb because of insufficient food, making for unhappy diners. That’s what happened a few years ago at this town’s traditional Festa del Porco, or Hog Festival. Hungry hoards, beyond all predictions, showed up and quickly polished off all the pork-related delicacies, leaving nothing else to eat. With typical Tuscan humour, someone baptized the event the “festa della fame e della sete,” or the Festival of Hunger and Thirst, and so it remained, officially thus named from 1998 onwards. This event’s a great success, held every June, where humour and hunger are celebrated. Within the walls, gastronomic stands serve up the Lunigiana’s top tastes: testaroli, focaccette, barbeques and the famous spalla cotta filattierese. Young people from the whole area attend the party, which runs late, with live music, dancing, drinking and of course food in abundance!
The "Lumacada", a penitential religious procession that took place in the town until the 1950s must have been quite a spectacle. Processing through the small streets towards the main piazza, here the line of faithful moves in a spiral pattern like that of snail’s shell. The leader would then curl back out, creating a spiral in the opposite direction. A stunning show that would take place by candlelight, with candles decorated by snail shells, attached to windowsills and walls. This took place on Good Friday, and then was moved to July 27th to recall the Madonna dedicated to an
earthquake that devastated Filattiera in 1903.