Events & Special Occasions in Torricella

Learn more about various events, holidays & celebrations that happen every year in Torricella Peligna

Feast of Sant’Antonio Abate

– January 17th

The 17th of January is the feast of Sant’Antonio Abate (St. Anthony the Abbot). This date is always remembered in Torricella. Sant’Antonio Abate is the epitome of a poor saint. He is the patron of peasants and the protector of animals, especially pigs. In Torricella, as in many other places of the center-south of Italy, tradition has it that a partly sacred and partly profane religious play is performed on this feast day called “Sandandonje”.

About ten people, some dressed as friars, two as angels, one as the devil and another as S. Antonio Abate, plus musicians with a guitar and an accordion, go around the town from house to house. When they enter the living room or the kitchen of the host’s house they begin the performance of the story, telling how Sant’Antonio flees from the devil in the desert. The words and music are handed down from generation to generation. When they enter the house, they arrange themselves in a semicircle and begin to sing and act. The whole thing lasts about twenty minutes. At the end of the performance there is the song “Santantonio accetta tutto pure l’osso di lu presutto” (Sant’Antonio accepts anything, even the bone of a ham); that is, they ask the head of the household for an offering, and they are prepared to accept anything “even the bone of a ham”. At that point the head of the household sets out the wine, a glass for everyone, then takes some grain (this happened a very long time ago), a little ham, or eggs and sausages, and very occasionally also some money and gives it to the monk with the bag. Then, after thanking the head of the household, they continue by knocking at the next house. At the end of the evening, all by now a little drunk, they divide up or eat the fruits of their begging.

Surely, during times of hardship, the play was a way to be able to get something substantial to eat, at a time of the year which was very “lean”. The grain and especially the eggs and the sausages had considerable value. Now, fortunately, there is no longer a need to beg for sausages or eggs, and the play, when it is performed, is done to keep tradition alive and also for enjoyment.

Information by Antonio Piccoli. Photos courtesy of Marziale D’Ulisse and Antonio Piccoli. Translation courtesy of Dr. Marion Apley Porreca.

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The last Saturday in May every year.


 Ada Ficca di lu cott with assistance from za Mariannina Teti di vutelle


The date of the feast depended on the availability of the band, the orchestra and the fireworks.  In any case, it always fell towards the end of May.  At 11 o’clock on the day of the feast, the bells of the main church and the sanctuary could be heard from a distance. 

Before the mass ended at the sanctuary, statues of the four saints, Saint Vincent Ferrer, Saint Marziale (aka Saint Martialis, the patron of Torricella), Saint John the Baptist and Saint Mariano (draped in an elegant cloth garment), were carried in a procession from Torricella to the sanctuary.  When the mass ended, the Madonna was taken out of the church and carried in a procession towards the saints.  They met up at the intersection, just a short distance from the sanctuary.  The saints went ahead and the Madonna brought up the rear as the procession continued back to the sanctuary.  There they remained all day. 

When the day was over, the Madonna and the saints were carried back to Torricella in another procession. 

At the same intersection, the Madonna stopped and let the saints pass, as though they were acknowledging each other.  Then each saint was returned to its respective church. 

Of course, during the festivities, people ate, drank and got a little tipsy.  So, it was risky to take the saints back to Torricella after the fireworks.  Therefore, they were returned in the early evening, right after the vesper service was held.  Then, people could celebrate at ease and drink as much as they wished.  


Feast of St. Anthony


Situated in the neighborhood of Sant’Antonio.  During the war, the Germans destroyed the small church.  The statue of Saint Anthony was in a niche that miraculously remained intact.  The mason Antonio Fedele, il Biondo (the blonde one) was given the task of rebuilding the church; he finished it in 1960. 


There are 4 stained glass windows representing the Evangelists and one high up behind the altar symbolizing the bread and wine; these are all the creations of the artist Federico Tamburi.  There are 2 others made time ago on the sides of the altar; they depict Saint Anthony and Mother Mary, both with Child Jesus. 


– 8/9 August

The statue exhibited in the church of Torricella depicts San Marziale in the naive and somewhat crude way typical of a certain religious iconography. The small proportions, the vaguely childish features of the face are striking, so much so that one thinks that it may be a child of only 7 years who lived at the time of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The name Martial is also striking, which derives from the Latin Mars, god of war. He, the youngest of seven children, despite his tender age, faced, together with his mother Felicita and all his brothers, a trial in which they were accused of being Christians. Before the judgment and condemnation, he repeatedly tried to induce them, with promises, blackmail and threats, and then also with torture and floggings, to abjure the religion they professed and which, according to the authorities, it undermined the state order and overturned the whole hierarchy of values. In fact, every time, before the soldier strikes the first blow of the whip on those slender backs, the prefect asks each of them to repudiate the religion to which they have converted. Despite this, the seven boys and their mother never denied their faith in Jesus. To date, the patronal feasts are celebrated on 8 and 9 August in honor of San Marziale, San Domenico and San Rocco. On the morning of 8 August, at 8, all of Torricella wakes up from the din of very loud barrels: it is the official opening of the festivities. The morning then continues with the band playing along the Corso and in the various districts. In the afternoon there is the beautiful and well-established Torricellana tradition of the “parade of the basins”. Some children dressed in Abruzzo costume, in pairs, holding the basin, symbol of Abruzzo, filled with sweets and decorated with flowers, they parade through the course accompanied by the marching band. Then at the end of the parade there is the award ceremony for the most beautiful basin. At 10 in the evening there is the “torchlight procession”: the lights of the street lighting suddenly go out, making everything dark, and, at the same time, the first torches arranged on the lampposts light up, a myriad of people accompanied by the band he walks towards the main church. Arriving under the church, the fireworks start in the churchyard. Then on the second day there is the more religious phase with the mass and the procession of San Marziale, the patron saint of Torricella. For some time now, an ancient tradition of Torricella that had been lost over time has been restored: Santa Felicita, a girl dressed like a Madonna, and seven children in ancient costumes parade in front of the statue of the saint. They want to represent the martyrdom of Santa Felicita with her seven children, all beatified, in which the youngest was San Marziale.


-August 17


The figure of Sant’Agata is linked to the so-called “Cult of Milk”. At the end of the 19th century, women used to uncover their chests to make ablutions with this water, called, precisely, of Sant’Agata. The Sant’Agata oven loaf is a sacred bread that is an expression of tradition and popular faith, the preparation of which dates back to time immemorial. It is linked to the celebration of the feast dedicated to the Saint which is celebrated twice a year, on February 5th and August 20th, during the threshing days. For the occasion, loaves in the shape of breasts are prepared, taken to the rural church dedicated to her, which are blessed and bathed in water from the adjacent spring. Once upon a time, pregnant women and those who have recently given birth made ablutions with the water from the spring, invoking the saint so that they would not lack milk for their offspring.


The “Cacchiette”, are prepared both savory and sweet, are mixed with stone-ground soft wheat flour of the local “Solina” variety, potatoes, natural sourdough yeast, oil, sugar (or salt), eggs, aniseed and boiled potatoes. Sant’Agata, Christian martyr during the persecution of Decius, (251 AD) was imprisoned to be forced to lead a dissolute life, but her resistance and her virtues led her to harassment, torture and finally to the cutting of her breasts. The passions of St. Agatha report the words that the martyr said to the proconsul: “Wicked, cruel and inhuman tyrant. Aren’t you ashamed to snatch from a woman what you yourself sucked from your mother?” She died in prison on February 5, 251. Christian iconography represents her with her breasts offered on a plate.


The Cult of Sant’Agata is still felt and practiced in various places in Abruzzo, such as Civitaluparella, where celebrations are organized in honor of the Saint or Torricella Peligna where, in Contrada Colle Zingaro, there is the Fontana delle Sese (of the breasts), which houses a small statue of the Saint, whose water is considered sacred, for the production of milk and the healing of breast ailments.