Weekend a Torricella Peligna

Per festeggiare Sant'Antonio Abate in questo paese abruzzese in provincia di Chieti, va in scena La Sandandonje, una rappresentazione della vita del santo a cui partecipano i torricellani tutti, vestiti con i costumi tessuti appositamente dalle sarte del luogo. La festa che avrà inizio il 17 gennaio si prolungherà fino a tutto il periodo di Carnevale...

Weekend at Torricella Peligna

To celebrate Sant’Antonio Abate in this village of Abruzzo in the Province of Chieti, all Torricellans take part in a show, La Sandandonje, representing the Saint’s life, dressed in costumes made on purpose by the local dressmakers. The celebration which begins on 17th January carries on until the whole of the period of Carnevale[1]

 A website of the community

  Radio Vaticana  Interviste su Sindaco Zacchigna


Cliccate sul collegamento sopra per ascoltare il colloquio di Luca Sguran a Radio Vaticana con il  sindaco di Torricella Peligna, Graziano Zacchigna. Il testo del colloquio é stato tradotto in inglese qui sotto..

  Radio Vatican Interviews Mayor Zacchigna

Click on the audio player above to hear the Radio Vatican's interview 26 December 2005 with Torricella Peligna's mayor Graziano Zacchigna. The audio is in italian. The text of the interview has been translated (slightly abridged) to english here:

Interviewer (Luca Sguran): Welcome at 12:17 on Friday 7th January to "Divine Weekend" by Luca Sguran and also Massimo Guarini at the control panel and directed/produced by Eleanora Di Luca and Nicoletta De Boni.

Green Telephone Number for any comments: 800 208 802.

Today’s programme, the first of 2005, is the last at this time slot of 12:15 pm; from next Friday, the start of our 3rd year, it will be at 10:30 am and will be slightly longer than before.

Today’s episode is about the feast of Sant’Antonio Abate, much celebrated not only in Lazio, but throughout Italy on 17th January and already we shall start talking about it today. To do something special we are leaving our usual regional confines and we’re going to a nearby beautiful region, the Abruzzo, to Torricella Peligna in the Province of Chieti, where the Mayor, Graziano Zacchigna, will tell us about the show they will be performing, La Sandandonje.

NOTE: (Comments they make like an "aside")
The Mayor, Graziano Zacchigna, first gives New Year greetings to all listeners and also to the Pope and to the Italian President Carlo Ciampi.

The interviewer thanks him and also sends greetings to all inhabitants of Torricella Peligna and thanks the Mayor for being so thoughtful.

Interviewer: We know that today’s episode is especially dedicated to Sant’Antonio Abate, please tell us what happens that is special in Torricella Peligna?

Graziano Zacchigna: In Torricella at this time of year, the villagers celebrate La Sandandonje, a cultural historical event dating back to the 18th Century. The show recalls/commemorates the temptation and eventual chasing off of the Devil by Sant'Antonio Abate. It takes place in the period between Sant’Antonio Abate’s feast day, on 17th January, until the day of Carnevale.[see 1]

It is enacted by a group of people each performing a specific role, dressed in appropriate costumes, such as Monks, Angels, Sant'Antonio, the Devil and a poor man who is a Beggar, all accompanied by an Accordion player.

(The Mayor explains that he is describing the scene so that radio-listeners can understand what the show is about and he invites everyone to come to Torricella and see the spectacle for themselves when it starts, from the 17th January onwards.)

(The interviewer notes that there is still time for people to organise an excursion to the Abruzzo to see the show, and he then apologises for interrupting the Mayor.)

(The Mayor asks if he may continue with his explanation so that the radio listeners will know what the show is about)

Graziano Zacchigna: This group of performers goes all around the village, to the various districts of which Torricella has many, from house to house, knocking on all the doors, they repeatedly perform the musical "scene" singing and accompanied by the accordion. They show the Devil menacingly trying to tempt Sant'Antonio Abate, who refuses all temptations and rejects all the Devil’s efforts and in the end beats off the Devil with his stick, sending him back to the "Inferno" (Hell). Then at the end, the poor beggar appears and asks for offerings from everyone present, the owners of the houses. Since it is the traditional time of year for killing the pig, the families of many peasants and villagers usually give gifts of sausages, salamis, cheeses and home-made products, such as home-made Christmas-period gifts.

Interviewer: Who takes part, only Torricellans, or people from elsewhere?

Graziano Zacchigna: No, only Torricellan villagers take part, and all the people of Torricella participate, the young, the old, whatever their age. It is a tradition that is felt warmly/strongly by all Torricellans; it takes place every year and has been the custom for very many years. Occasionally the show is also taken to other neighbouring villages.

Interviewer: How are Sant’Antonio and the other actors chosen?

Graziano Zacchigna: It has become almost a custom for quite a while that Sant’Antonio is played by the same person, as he is very good at it and, being tall and having a stick, he represents him well. The costumes all reflect the actors’ parts, Monks, Angels and the set design is simple; the Devil is dressed in red, has a black face and a pitchfork. The show is a simple thing of the village.

Interviewer: Are the costumes, which also have an important part in the play, made locally?

Graziano Zacchigna: Yes, the costumes are made by excellent dressmakers all from Torricella Peligna…

Interviewer: So we must give due credit to the dressmakers.

Graziano Zacchigna: Yes, and there is a School of Sewing. Local women, housewives, meet at a place lent to them by the Town Hall, where they do beautiful embroidery and sewing. The Mayor invites everyone to visit, to come and watch the women at work, to see and evaluate their wonderful craftsmanship. Also everyone is invited to see the La Sandandonje show which takes place from 17th January until Carnevale.

Interviewer: Can we talk now about Torricella?

Graziano Zacchigna: Before talking about the village of Torricella, may I be allowed to talk about another event that used to take place at Torricella? There was an ancient tradition of Sant'Antonio's Pig; this tradition was carried out every year until the 1950’s. A pig was chosen and marked in red, being given a red collar or a red ribbon to wear. Every Torricellan had to respect it and look after it for the whole year. The pig roamed freely for the entire year and went anywhere it wanted in the village. Every Torricellan had the duty of feeding it and looking after it until 17th January, when it was killed at the village’s feast day. It is no longer possible to carry on with this tradition - for reasons of hygiene - nowadays a pig could not be allowed to roam free in the village. The Mayor was keen to tell of this tradition because, since it ceased in the 1950’s, many people have forgotten about it (or are too young to have known of it).

Interviewer: We may have stolen a little of the time needed for describing Torricella, but that doesn’t matter because this was so interesting.

Interviewer: Before getting on to the subject of gastronomy, what things other than the show are of interest to a visitor to Torricella Peligna?

Graziano Zacchigna: Torricella Peligna has many important Monuments and Churches such as :-

  • The Church of San Giacomo Apostolo – built from early 1200’s through the 1300’s – with various modifications since then;
  • The little Church of San Rinaldo at Fallascoso; Fallascoso is an important quarter of Torricella Peligna;
  • The Church of the Madonna delle Rose – a place of pilgrimage for people devoted to worshiping the Madonna;
  • The Alpinists’ Memorial Monument
  • The Monument to the Fallen (of World War II), at the top of the village

Interviewer: Excuse me for interrupting again, I suppose the neighbouring Abruzzo region is very beautiful and a pleasure to visit?

Graziano Zacchigna: Yes it is very pleasant and we have :-

  • The vast Pinewood close by, almost within the village, with its picnic areas, children’s playground and its clean healthy fresh-air;
  • At just a few steps away to the West is the Maiella Mountain;
  • To the East is the River Sangro and to the West the River Aventino;
  • The village lies on a crest, the summit of which is at 900 metres - and the air is pure.

Interviewer: Fresh air is just what the people coming from Rome need! Mayor, between the scenery, the pure air and going for a stroll, inevitably one’s appetite is stimulated; what should we ask for that is good to eat when we visit the restaurants of Torricella Peligna?

Graziano Zacchigna: advises visitors to Torricella Peligna to taste :-

  • Polenta with Sausages (polenta con salsicce) – which is most pleasantly made here, it is a really good dish;

  • Tagliatelle with Beans (tagliatelle ai fagioli);

  • Lasagne a pezzi (sagne a pezzi) – made with hand-made pasta usually made by housewives, in the restaurants, or at the many agritourism centres in the vicinity;

  • Pizza e Foglie (pizza e foie) – a pizza whose crust is made using maize flour and is filled with various green vegetables.

Interviewer: Mayor, I’m noticing that, whilst we’ve been talking about all these good things, our time is running out and before closing we must ask a fundamental question. How do we get to Torricella Peligna from Rome?

Graziano Zacchigna: From Rome, unless I am mistaken, one takes the A25 Autostrada to Pescara. At Pescara take the A14 Autostrada towards Bari and exit at the Val di Sangro. At Val di Sangro take the L'Asse Attrezzato (perhaps the mayor is referring to the Fondo Valle Sangro) along the bottom of the Sangro Valley – turn near the fork for Roccascalegna, another typical cultural centre where there is a lovely medieval castle to visit, near us, then after 8 Km you arrive at Torricella Peligna, at 900 metres, where one can enjoy the cultural features and the sausages.....

Interviewer: that you have described so well. One final quick question - a telephone number for reference?

Graziano Zacchigna: You can telephone the Town Hall at 00 39 0872 969412 and we can give any information to tourists about …..

Interviewer: (Repeats the phone number). I thank you Mayor ….

Graziano Zacchigna: I thank all of you at Radio Vatican and send solemn greetings again to all Italians who are listening.

Interviewer: Thanks again to Graziano Zacchigna, Mayor of Torricella Peligna, and to all Torricellans.

Graziano Zacchigna: Thank you again and good-day to everybody.

Interviewer: Thank you and goodbye. There is just time to remind you that our internet site is www.105live.radiovaticana.org

Goodbye from Luca Sguran - with an appointment for next week but at 10:30 and no longer at 12:15 - good day and good listening to other programmes on 105 live.

English translation courtesy of Dr. Marion Apley Porreca