Halloween in Tuscany? Why not! Of course, it is not an Italian festivity, but sometimes we could not resist the temptation to wear a witch costume and go around along the narrow streets of one of the medieval villages, questioning “Trick or treat?”. You know, Tuscans are hilarious people, and we like having fun.
How Halloween became the Festivity we all know
Despite its Celtic origin, celebrations of Halloween have more ancient roots. At the time of Romans, during the last days of October, people celebrated Pomona, the Goddess of seeds and fruits, thanking her for all the precious help she did during the harvest. Also, in February, they celebrated the Parentalia, a domestic celebration of family ancestors which was an early version of Halloween.
Looking back to the history, in northern Europe, we can connect Halloween to the Keltic Samhain, which was a celebration for the end of summer, when any sorts of supernatural events were happening.
All Saints Day (or All Hallows’ Eve like in ancient Scotland) was established by Pope Gregory IV to replace the previous pagan holiday of Halloween in the United Kingdom, but they gave a new one in name of the Christianity. However, Halloween survived to the attempt to cancellation in name of the religion, and the British kept it as a laical celebration. After the half of the 1800’s, Halloween has been also exported to the USA, thanks to the Irish immigration.
How we celebrate Halloween in Tuscany
When I was a kid, on 31 October, I remember my friend Francesca asked to me to spend the afternoon at her place. Once arrived, her grandfather gave me a necklace made with chestnuts, instead of pearl drops, and a red apple, in place of a pendant. I was surprised and I asked what it was for. He told me in dialect “This is to protect you against the evil soul of the death tonight”. I was just 8 years old, so I was a bit scared. Why did anybody inform me about something like that before? At that time, Halloween was something of too much exotic for me and I heard about it only on American TV shows or movies. I remember I spent all night long hoping to not seeing any evil presence in my room, and I fell asleep with lights turned on.
Nowadays, even if it’s not a traditional festivity of my birth land, new generations have learned everything they need to celebrate a proper Halloween, in Tuscany and all over Italy. Parents buy to their kids any sort of costumes, and adults enjoy attending Halloween parties too.
What to do for a scary Halloween in Tuscany
All events take place on 31 October and they all deserve a visit, at least to enjoy the atmosphere of the Halloween in Tuscany:
The Devil’s Bridge of Borgo a Mozzano – Photo Credits: Glenn Bowman
Borgo a Mozzano has the most famous festival of Halloween in Tuscany, and from 28 to 31 October the center is literally invaded by any sorts of horror lovers and grotesque creatures, all attending the most ghastly dances or exoteric experiments. The village of Borgo a Mozzano, which is well known for its Devil’s Bridge, do a complete mutation into a horror village with alleys haunted by role games, theatrical reenactments, concerts, and fireworks.
In Florence, the Firenze Halloween Run takes place at the Parco Delle Cascine. A fun race of five Km for adults and a three km for families and their kids. Don’t forget to wear your scary costume. At the end of the race, there will be prizes for the best masks.
For a night in occasion of Vicoli del Terrore festival, the medieval burg of Lorenzana, under the province of Pisa, turns into a scary dark place. You won’t be safe walking its tiny alleys. Vampires, zombies, and any kind of monsters hide behind every corner. The program includes musicians, fire eaters, acrobatic Crew, street performers, and of course a lot of traditional food.
If you are a Twilight saga fan, for your Halloween in Tuscany, take the chance to organize a tour to Volterra, the city where the book NewMoon by Stephanie Meyers takes place. Keep in mind that the real set of the movie was Montepulciano if you would like to track down Edward and Bella while hosted by the Volturi family.
San Galgano Abbey
If all you need is a suggestive location for a mysterious Halloween in Tuscany tour, well, I suggest you visit San Galgano Abbey and discover the legend of the sword in the stone. Or visit the Giardino dei Tarocchi (the Tarot Garden) and its odd sculptures, in southern Tuscany close to the city of Grosseto (every first Saturday of the month, from 9 am to 1 pm, it is open and free of charge. the other days, during the winter season is unfortunately closed).
Finally, if you love comics books and games, keep your costume on and go straight to Lucca Comics & Games, for the most important festival of Europe of Comics and Games. Thousands of people wearing costumes on of their favourite cartoons or TV characther crowd the downtown from the 1st to the 5th November.