Serpari Of Cocullo:
Every 1st May in Cocullo, a small village in the province of L'Aquila, religious and pagan rituals are intertwined to create an unmatched event: the Serpari Of Cocullo (snake manipulators religious festivity).
On this day are celebrated the patron saint of the village San Domenico Abate, protector of bites of snakes.
Beginning the day of celebration are the faithful who, in the chapel dedicated to the saint in the village square, are invited to ring a bell by pulling the lanyard with their teeth; after the holy mass, at midday, the statue of the patron is decorated with snakes and carried in procession through the streets of Cocullo to make San Domenico represent the link between the insidious nature and the life of the men forced out of all dangers.
The "serpari" remain in the square with their snakes bringing them on or gathered in large baskets giving the opportunity to all tourists to approach, photograph and manipulate the reptiles.
The Serpari of Cocullo follow the same traditions as their ancestors to capture the serpents: approximately a month before the event the snakes are taken away from their dung, still in hibernation, placed in large wooden crates where they are nourished with care and finally released into the woods near the village once the celebrations have ended.
As a true Abruzzo tradition there are a musical band invested in the task of accompanying the entire procession and a host of artisan merchants who give life to trades and traditions lost in time. Do not miss the opportunity to live this truly impressive experience ... And if you do not have the courage to put a snake on your neck you can still enjoy the charming alleys in the village, or the beauty of its lively antique markets and its marvelous view over the unspoiled nature of the Abruzzo, Lazio & Molise National Park all around you.