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Novoli (Lecce): Bonfire for Sant’Antonio Abate Feast Day
An event every year that begins at 12:00 am on day 16 of January, repeating indefinitely
Novoli, a small town near Lecce, honors the town’s patron, Sant’Antonio Abate, on the eve of his feast day January 17. The origin of the fire ritual is said to date back at least 1,000 years and is credited to monks from the east who settled in Novoli. The fòcara is a bonfire constructed of olive branches and grape vines in Piazza Tito Schipa. Using a huge ladder to pile the branches on top, the fire builders make a mountain as high as a three-story house. Thousands of pilgrims walk from nearby towns to honor the Saint. In addition to the bonfire, there are masses, religious processions, food, wine, and musical events.
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Photo credit: Andrea Fistetto, flickr.com