Legend has it that in Pagan times, the residents of Itri built bonfires of winter-sterile olive branches to bid goodbye to the snow and beckon the sun. My friends and I toss branch after branch into the flames; dance with the band; eat more food. Does the ritual work? Well, it hasn’t rained once since Saturday so fingers crossed.
Like many other Pagan rites, Itri’s spring festival was co-opted by the church and given a religious name. But nothing feels very religious about hurling heavy branches onto fire, dancing tarantella, drinking wine, and gazing up at a giant supermoon through the sparks.