A papier-mâché costume disguises a man and fireworks whose enthralling rhythmic dance to local folk music begins slowly before reaching its finale, ecstatic explosions with fireworks shooting off in all directions. Like so many Abruzzesi celebrations the protagonist is fire and was a purifying and land fertility rite and is performed at sagre and feste normally to close the evening.
If you are trying to discover if there is a pupa dancing at a sagra you are thinking of attending, do be aware their name changes across the provinces. In L’ Aquila it is called phantasma, in the Chieti area it is called puparone, in Teramo it is pupazza and in Pescara it is pupa! Mostly the pupa always dances individually, however in Casalincontrada (CH), she also performs as a couple dancing the tarantella or in a threesome to dance saltarello accompanied by an accordion.
“Lu Balle de la Pupa is one of the most exciting things to see in Abruzzo when ‘Health and Safety’ is thrown out of the window. This performance was part of the San’Antonio Abate celebrations in Abbateggio (PE), that sits on the northern slopes of the Maiella Mountain and is regarded as one of Italy’s most beautiful small towns. A Bonfire, wine, music and Lu Pupa. What else could you want for a great night out?” Janet Brady