Men in Tights and Girl Groups.
As it is Easter weekend and Italy is a good Catholic country each village has the usual marches and parading statues of the Madonna. This is in the nearby town of Carovigno where there is an unusual flag twirling ceremony called “Nzenga” – the local dialect for flag.
The local legend is that a mediaeval lord had a vision in which he was told to go seek a shrine to the Madonna to cure his ailment. In his search he met a cowherd whose heifer had gone missing. The cowherd found the cow in a cave kneeling to a stature of the Madonna. He was so overjoyed he ran out blowing his whistle and throwing his multi-coloured headscarf into the air. The lord followed into the cave and was cured of his illness.
In celebration of this the locals have, since the 12th century, been dressing up in mediaeval costumes and twirling multi-coloured flags accompanied by fife and drum bands.This has now turned into a major competition between the locals to see who can be the best and highest flag twirler, both between individuals and teams.
After mass in the church they parade the Christ and Madonna into the main square preceded by girls and boys dressed up as lords and ladies, the bands and the flag twirlers. Because all the local lads take part in the flag twirling it is left primarily to the girls to form the pipe and drum bands.
Banners and statue of Christ being carried into the square
Ditto for Madonna del Belvedere
Then it is the flag waving competition. The man in the white shirt in the centre has just thrown his flag up. You can just see the flag level with the top of the dome of the bandstand.
Here they do some low level moves with the flags around and between the legs.
Finally they all parade through the town. Local lads waving flags.
More men in tights twirling flags.
All followed by a delightful lunch down at the seaside with our friends who live nearby.
PS. for videos of flag waving and band marching see previous post: Pasqua in Puglia 2010: Carovigno Easter parade
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