Festa De Le Cove… harvest festival Italian style…

Oxen – Photograph courtesy of Giancarlo Fabiani

There are an inordinate number of festas (street parties/festivals) and sagras (usually to do with eating) happening all over Italy for most of the summer months. Wherever you go there will be people eating, dancing and drinking in small towns and villages all of them offering something traditional and steeped in history. In Petritoli we have several of these and the biggest is the Festa De Le Cove. It’s a harvest festival celebration of sorts. A whole weekend of fun.

Posh Mum and Dad
Posh Mum and Dad
Posh Daughter
Posh Daughter

The basic idea is that the people from the surrounding countryside, the ‘contadini’ (peasant farmers) come into the centre of town with offerings of grain for the ‘aristocracy’ the corn is blessed by the priest, the rich people leave the town giving the farmers the run of the place for the weekend. They have a ball, dancing, eating and drinking. Until they have to leave on the Sunday evening. I may not have got this exactly right but I’m sure someone out there will correct me if I’m widely missing the point. Today it’s symbolic the people don’t actually leave town – everyone joins in the festivities.

Contadini Family
Contadini Family

The festival culminates with a procession of floats which have the most amazing sculptures made from straw and corn. This year the procession was led by a magnificent pair of oxen pulling a cart full of sheaves of straw. (Cove is the word for sheaves.) Other floats included a scythe, a ladybird (lucky symbol here), a 10 lira coin and a model of the wonderful Petritoli Tower. There was also an old threshing machine on show, many stands selling local crafts. Here you can see a video of the procession and dancing. I hope the quality is okay…it took me about 4 hours to put it together and it’s my first attempt so don’t expect too much!

Food stands sold, pizzette (deep fried pizza base I think), roast goose, pasta, polenta, bruschetta and much more. Oh and plenty of wine of course!

A side street in the town
A side street in the town

The town is beautifully decorated and each year there’s a different theme, this year it was poppies and sunflowers. At the roundabouts and road junctions they put life size dummies made of straw – I love them!

man with fork Mr and Mrs

These two look like they've had a row!
These two look like they’ve had a row!

Everyone can dance the traditional Saltarello, they dance behind the floats, they dance in the square, the children and teenagers perform on the stage it’s a lively dance and it’s great fun but they never, never change the music! it’s the same from around 10am in the morning until they finally close down after midnight. By the end you cannot get the song out of your head and it inhibits sleep and stays with you for days! The vocals are interesting, if you can understand them! They make the words up as they go along. Often the lyrics are risqué, sung in the local dialect and directed to passers by and people sitting at tables. A couple of years ago I was the victim of the song and my Italian ‘friends’ fell about laughing, raising their eyebrows and thoroughly enjoying the joke of which I was obviously the centre but sadly, or perhaps gladly, I couldn’t understand one word.

Ladybird – Photograph courtesy of Giancarlo Fabiani
Scythe – Photograph courtesy of Giancarlo Fabiani
bell tower
Petritoli Bell Tower – Photograph courtesy of Giancarlo Fabiani

Thank you Giancarlo Fabiani for some of the photographs this week. Giancarlo has an old printing press in the centre of Petritoli, it’s been in his family for many generations. I may blog about it one day as it’s very interesting.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this week’s blog and looking at the photos and video. I’m going to take a well earned rest in the afternoon sun. 🙂

15 thoughts on “Festa De Le Cove… harvest festival Italian style…

  1. Thank you Ninette for taking the time to do this so I could share it with my many friends everywhere.

  2. Well done with video, really captured the day. Am coming back tomorrow and look forward to the more simple life, the cost of food, the quality of it and the ease of living in our zone. Feel very lucky that we have found this place….I know you do too. Hope we can meet up before the summer passes…love to your both, Lesley

  3. Thanks, Ninette, for putting this together. I was in Petritoli last year for the Festa Delle Cove and had a wonderful time. Since establishing my “second home” in Petritoli, I hope to enjoy the festa many times more in future. Saluti a tutti.

  4. Very good post indeed – it is always a wonderful day and so much effort is made by the Petritolese in the preparations – town decorations, float construction, stage building, cooking, dressing up, rehearsing etc etc – its fantastic that these old traditions are kept alive enjoyed and participated in by everyone from toddlers and teenagers to nonni and nonne!! I really think that this sense of genuine community pride strikes a nostalgic chord with we stranieri ( and that’s one reason among many why I am happy to be here) – especially those of us born and raised in country districts back in Blighty between about 1940 and 1960. Personally I deeply regret the awful homegenisation and dumbing down which our country has experienced since the 70’s. You execrable politicians across the spectrum have a lot to answer for and hopefully one day you will …
    Forza Petritoli per sempre!!

  5. And many thanks from Steve and I, Ninette. As you know we feel very sad that we have never yet been there to experience this. Your account is brilliant.

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