Country and people, Culture, Italy's regions

The night of the taranta – the biggest festival in Italy

An event that is involving the whole of Salento and is also known as the last festival of the summer, but the biggest, the most traditional, we are talking about the: Festa della Taranta. It is certainly much better known today because it has become an event that is even broadcast on RAI, which has acquired the rights.

The Night of the Taranta is held in public squares, there is no ticket to be made. In fact, public viewing is completely free, with free admission.

Are you in Puglia at the end of August? Are you planning to experience a traditional, popular and ancient event? Would you like to take a trip of a few days to Apulia? Then think about booking from 22 to 26 August 2023. This year, the Notte della Taranta has increased its duration by two days and will be itinerant, in the sense that it will travel through some of the largest and most famous squares in Salento.

The watchword: Salento folk music!

Where does the Night of the Taranta come from? It is an ancient tradition in southern Italy and particularly in the Salento region. Here, singing events are a popular culture. Only that the night of the Taranta combines: songs and pizzica or tarantella.

It unites two great traditions of Apulia: the traditional song of work, of the secret loves and passions of the ‘poor’, and the ‘pizzica’ dance. The latter is a typical Salento dance that grew out of other well-known dances such as the ‘tarantelle’. Here we open another pill of Italian history, namely: the tarantella or taranta

A dance that, according to legend, originated from the bite of the tarantula. The venom was so powerful that it created hysteria and frenzy, so much so that in order to survive the poison, people moved as if ‘possessed’ and then danced shamelessly. Women fluttered their skirts in the air, showing bare legs and thighs. Bustiers were unfastened, showing part of the breasts.

But it was all permissible, indeed, contrary to the common morality of the past, of the 1700s, it was not at all immoral for a woman to dance the taranta. How come? Because this was the only way to get rid of the poison.

In fact, in the Notte della Taranta we find Italian and obligatorily Salento songs combined with performances of pizzica dancing, i.e. tarantella.

Where does the Notte della Taranta take place?

Are you already booking your accommodation for the Notte della Taranta? Italy’s biggest festival, more important even than Sanremo, will take place from 22 August to 26 August 2023. On 26 August there will be the ‘mega closing concert’ event.

 As mentioned, this year it will be a travelling event and will touch the municipalities of Lecce, Galatina, Cursi, Alessano, Ugento, Racale and San Vito dei Normanni. The last night, with the grand final concert, will be held in Melpignano. The main squares will be affected, the largest ones welcoming thousands of tourists. Last year, the Night of the Taranta had over 200,000 spectators.