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In Novoli they call it " the days of fire" because the feast in honour of the patron saint St. Anthony revolves around the "Focara" bonfire, made with freshly pruned vine shoots, the scale of which is striking (about 25 mt.). This rite is repeated every year, on the night between the 16th and 17th of January.
At the end of the feast of St. Joseph, around March 19th, in many towns of the Salento (especially in the area between Maglie and Otranto), the squares become packed with laden tables and the houses are opened for pilgrims, friends and relatives. The main dish cooked exclusively for this occasion is the "mass of San Giuseppe", a unique homemade pasta to which local Salento sprouts and chickpeas are added.
The rites of Holy Week in Gallipoli are centred on the narrow streets of the old town. In these solemn days, the city is infused with a strong mystical atmosphere and almost surreal silence (especially on Holy Thursday). The rites of the processions begin with "Passion Friday" and end on "Holy Saturday" with a moving procession that starts from the Church of Purity.
The Easter Monday of the inhabitants of Calimera, one of the municipalities of Grecia Salentina, is another example of how, in the Salento, sacred and secular coexist. Inside the Roccia of San Vito there is a large limestone mass with a hole in the middle, based on an ancient propitiatory rite you have to crawl through it on all fours.
The Feast of Santa Domenica in Scorrano (July 5th-7th) is a real jubilation of lights and colours. The true protagonists of this festival are the lights themselves: singular artists and artisans of light have conquered the world with their creations. Scorrano is home to some of the true masters in the art of illumination.
The night of San Rocco in Torre Paduli (a hamlet of Ruffano) is one of the most evocative festivals of the whole Salento: The festivity takes place between the 15th and the 16th of August and offers the opportunity to get to know the pizzica ballad, set to the rhythm of the tambourine and the exciting "dance of the swords".
In Otranto, from the 13th to the 15th of August, the death of the nineteenth century Martyrs is being remembered. A heroic story in which the stars were not the Spanish soldiers who were supposed to defend the city from the Turks, but the Otrantines themselves, mostly fishermen, craftsmen and peasants.
The "Notte della Taranta" is a concert-event that takes place every year in the second half of August in Melpignano. The event is now an essential pillar for the musical culture of the Salento.
It is the most "peasant" of the patronal festivities: the festivity of Sant'Oronzo in Leccesi takes place for three days, every year, from the 24th to the 26th of August and traditionally marks the return of the Leccesi from their holidays. Lecce exhibits not only devotion in this festival, but also timeless costumes and becomes a destination for many inhabitants of towns throughout the province.
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