La Festa dei Banderesi in Bucchianico – Celebrating History, Unity and Cultural Heritage

The Festa dei banderesi di Bucchianico is a wonderfully colourful festival that contains elements of commemoration, cultural expression, and community spirit deep in the Maiella National Park.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the beauty of the meticulously crafted floral arrangements, partake in traditional dances and music, and indulge in the delicious local cuisine, making it a truly memorable experience that showcases the rich cultural heritage of Bucchianico.


A Day in Bucchianico  ©Eugenio Panichi

The festival traces its origins back to a 14th-century dispute between Chieti and Bucchianico over the borders. As the Chieti army approached the walls of Bucchianico, the townspeople faced a perilous situation. However, in a dream, Sant’Urbano appeared to the hereditary Sergentiere, leader of the militia from the Tatasciore family, and suggested a clever strategy. The men, adorned with red and blue bands and colorful feathers, ran along the battlements, creating an illusion of a larger defense force. Meanwhile, led by the Banderese, the countryside population sought refuge within Bucchianico’s walls. The ruse succeeded, dissuading Chieti from attacking.

Today, the festival commemorates this historic event. Women don elegant traditional dresses and carry enormous baskets filled with handmade crepe paper flowers, reciting the rosary. Young girls, known as “pacchianelle,” proudly balance these baskets on their heads. The men construct carts, some representing aspects of peasant life, while the Banderese family creates carts symbolising items brought by displaced peasants seeking shelter within Bucchianico’s walls: bread, bed, wood, and wine. Traditionally on the Sunday before  May 23, the procession, led by the Banderese family, commences, carrying the ribboned calf, the patron saint’s image, and donations. After reaching the Monument to the Fallen, the sergeant welcomes the Banderesi, entering through the church of Sant’Urbano Papa. The celebration continues with various traditions, including breakfast with veal stew, paying homage to the Chieti soldiers’ meal before the siege. The festival culminates on May 26 with a grand parade through Bucchianico’s main churches, offering Ceri at the reliquary of Sant’Urbano.

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Sam Dunham
Author: Sam Dunham

Sam is a very lucky midlife 'mamma' to A who is 12 and juggles her work as a self-employed freelance SEO food and travel copywriter and EFL teacher. She is the founder of the Life In Abruzzo Cultural Association, co-founder of Let's Blog Abruzzo. she is the founder of the 'English in the Woods' initiative, teaching English outdoors in a forest style school.

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