On Tuesday, August 6, the itinerant festival La Notte della Taranta – ‘the tarantella night’ – began in Corigliano d’Otranto, a small town in Apulia, Italy, in the hearth not only of world renowned Salento, but also of the so-called Grecìa Salentina – ‘Salento’s Greece’ – a linguistic island were people still use e peculiar variation of Greek language as their dialect. An incredible heritage of culture and traditions, and therefore the ideal set for Italy’s biggest festival, which allowed the rich variety of music genders known as tarantella to the success it deserves. Not just a meeting of nostalgics looking for some forgotten tunes, but a thriving and lively stage where tradition meets experimentalism and contamination.
Tarantella is a combination of rhythms and dances popular all over Southern Italy, although every region as its unique traits. In Salento tarantella (from tarantola, ‘tarantula’) is also called pizzicata (‘to be pinched’), both terms which recall the origin of this tradition.
Tarantism was an hysteric and convulsive condition which ancient believes thought to be due to the tarantula’s bite. Popular tradition assumed that to heal from the spider’s poison the victim had to dance convulsively accompanied by proper music. Expert and talented musicians would be able to find the right vibrations for healing the bitten person, during a musical performance which could last for days.
During the last decades the music festivals developed from this ancient traditions gained widespread acclamation. Women, men, elders, youngsters, locals and visitors… nobody resists the rhythm of tarantella. At the same time, the performance of expert dancers is an unmissable show of elegance and vitality.