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How can I watch the Pizzica
Photo: www.lanottedellataranta.it

How can I watch the Pizzica?

La Notte Della Taranta (The Night of Taranta or ‘Tarantula’) is a travelling music festival hailing from Salento in Puglia, Italy.

The festival celebrates the history of traditional Salento pizzica folk music along with its fusion with other musical languages. Typical genres vary, from jazz to rock, symphonic and world music.

Pizzica is an Italian folk dance originating from Salento but now celebrated in the rest of Puglia, Basilicata and Calabria. A part of the wider tarantella folk dances, the tradition is a couples dance to the sound of a frenetic orchestra consisting mainly of and tambourine and the violin.

The dance contains three variations; the pizzica-scherma, pizzica of courtship and Pizzica Tarantata. In pizzica there is a socio-anthropological phenomenon called Tarantismo, from which the dance originates.

From this, the circular dance was originally devised as a way of curing women who were bitten by a tarantula, known as taranta.

The taranta is a mythical creature with characteristics transforming it into an animal with zoomorphic elements.

In tradition, the taranta tends to reproduce, through dance, the movements and characteristics of the taranta that plucked it.

The line-up is dictated by a different musical director every year, although sometimes curators have been commissioned for two or three years in a row. Notable musical directors have included world-renowned composer Ludovico Einaudi (in 2010 and 2011), Phil Manzanera (ex-Roxy Music guitarist, in 2015), Stewart Copeland (of Police fame, in 2003) and Mauro Pagani (from 2007 to 2009).

Performing artists hail from all over the world and their sets are interspersed with pizzica orchestras. Famous previous guests have included Tony Allen, Paul Simonon, Buena Vista Social Club and Suzanne Vega.

The festival was formed in 1998, financed by several municipalities of Salento and the Diego Carpitella Institute, which attempts to preserve traditional Italian folk music.

Since then, the festival has grown enormously. The average turnout is now around 120,000 spectators and the celebration is a significant contributor to tourism in Salento, with a modest awareness throughout Puglia.

The festival attracts southern Italians curious about local musical traditions. People from other regions and countries also visit, intruiged by this unique celebration.

The festival itself is a touring reverie. For approximately one month the festival’s musicians and dancers tour Salento. The festival then concludes in one big event in Melpignano, a small town in Grecìa Salentina.

Celebrants confess to feeling primordial energy and a connection with others and surrounding nature. Although Italians no longer feel the need to dance away the bite of a tarantula, the tradition also provides an escape from the stresses of modern society.

The key rhythm of the pizzica is the tambourine, which is at the centre of all of the musical performances. The instrument symbolises each human’s true nature, which is key to everything we do in life.

Since 2010, the festival has been financially self-sufficient, funded and curated by the La Notte della Taranta Foundation.

The most recent festival was hosted from 4th - 27th August 2022.