Cocullo, Italy: The Festival of the Snakes
Cocullo and the Feast of San Domenico Abate:
The small town of Cocullo is not much different from many Italian towns, except for the celebration of The Feast of San Domenico Abate. San Domenico was a Benedictine monk from the 10th Century, although much is lost to history. He is credited with the ability to cure and protect believers from storms, fevers, rabies and the bites of wild or poisonous animals.
The story has it that Saint Dominic cleared out local fields being invaded by snakes and due to this an event staged every May 1st, the Festival of Snakes, as it has become known has become so popular. The population of the tiny town explodes as people from all over the region descend upon it.
Snakes (the non-venemous kind of course) are placed on the statue of San Domenico and the statue is taken from the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie and paraded through town.
In addition many snake charmers bring snakes to the festival, so it is certainly not for everyone. But it is surely one of the most unique among Italy’s religious festivals.
Traveling to Cocullo, Italy:
You can reach the town by train from Pescara (about 2 hours) or from Rome Tiburtina Station (about 2 hours). You can also depart Rome Termini but the trip is longer (a minimum of 3 hours and at least one change of trains). On the feast day extra trains are added to handle the crowd…… so check in advance for schedules on that day. Get train & bus schedules, see fares & buy tickets here.
There is no official website for the church.
Address: 1 Piazza Madonna delle Grazie, 1, 67030 Cocullo AQ, Italy
GPS coordinates: 42° 1′ 55.1172” N, 13° 46′ 30.4788” E
Click here for a video of the event.
Photo credit wikimedia