Sant'Antonio Abate feast - Nepi - 17th January

Sant'Antonio Abate, also known as Saint Anthony the abbot or Saint Anthony the Great, is an Egyptian saint and is the patron saint of butchers, domestic animals, basketmakers and gravediggers. He also protects against skin diseases, in particular shingles, which is known in Italy as "Fuoco di Sant'Antonio" (Fire of Saint Anthony). Naturally then, people like to celebrate on his saint day, which is the 17th January.

taken from http://www.telesanterno.com
Nepi, in the province of Viterbo, about 30km south-east of Viterbo and about 13km south-west of Civita Castellana, is hosting a festa in his honor over the weekend of the 16th and 17th of January. Many town and cities throughout Italy host a feast in his honor, often with processions and bonfires, so try to check one out if you can. Why bonfires? Well, as legend has it, Sant'Antonio Abate descended to Hell to steal the Devil's fire and, while he distracted the Devil, his piglet ran in and stole some fire to take back to the humans on Earth.

From Fabionepi - http://www.panoramio.com/photo/17919398

As Sant'Antonio was such a good guy, Nepi hosts a big bonfire or focarone (as big as a house) in his honor, just outside the city (near the aquaduct). The wood for the bonfire is actually brought by the Nepesini (the citizens of Nepi). They'll set the bonfire alight on the Saturday (the 16th) and keep it going throughout the weekend. They set up communal picnic tables so people can cook sausages and pork steaks on the embers of the fire along with singing songs and drinking wine.

There's more than just a bonfire however...

Over the course of the weekend there are fairs, shows and a parade (usually on the Sunday). There is also a mass at the chiesa di San Pietro on the Saturday, followed by a religious procession through the town, ending in fireworks.

All in all, it's a great way to spend the weekend or a day out! 


Getting there from Rome:

By car - Take the SS2 - via cassia from the GRA, then follow the signs for Nepi (it's pretty easy). I'm afraid I don't know if it's possible to get there from Rome with public transport :-(

5 comments:

  1. You've got me curious now. I wonder if we have any observances down my way or if we need to go up there. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Thanks for your comment! Whereabouts are you based?

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  3. Here's a quick update. I've just called the local 'proloco' and the schedule of events this year is as follows:

    The Focarone is lit on Sunday evening and on the 17th (Monday) they'll do the religious functions such as the mass and the blessing of animals and agricultural vehicles. They will then have a carnival parade the following Sunday (23rd).

    There are also events this weekend in Sutri and Viterbo (among others) so do check them out if you're in the area (and let me know how it goes!)

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  4. Hey Pete, I just published a similar post about whats on in Bagnaia...check it out. Your comments are welcome. http://50yearsinitaly.blogspot.it/2013/01/the-guinness-of-bonfires.html

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