Introducing the small but enchanting town of Pollutri in Abruzzo, situated just north of Vasto and a quick 15-minute drive to Abruzzo’s alluring Adriatic shores. Buzz recounts two vibrant local cultural festivals that help colour the late autumn season, particularly the grand celebration of San Nicholas, where you can witness the dramatic spectacle of the salting of beans. Spirited ladies add salt to 12 large cauldrons, accompanied by festive firecrackers that echo the jubilant atmosphere of this distinctive event.
Pollutri has two festivals in the late Autumn that bring many visitors to this lovely little town.
Sunday 26th saw the annual wine and food festival, with hundreds roaming the town or seated at the tables scattered around the various piazze with food and wine in their hands. There was great choice, with delicious fresh seafood, being served outside the local fish shop, ours. Many of the nearby wineries had stalls and you could buy several glasses, including a glass and a hang-around-your-neck bag, for €7 or a little more per glass (or rather, plastic) at the individual
For me the highlight was the music. Around every corner, dotted in every little piazza (even ones I didn’t know existed) was a group blasting out their genre of music. There were four groups in total, each of them fantastic, creating music and vocals that kept you toe-tappingly warm on the somewhat chilly evening as you stood nearby. Atmospheric lighting took advantage of ancient buildings in the Centro Storico, bringing this little town to life on a cold winter’s night. The fifth music group we encountered on the way home was a bunch of ompahpah guys with everything that clanged and rattled, including some interesting devices on one of the guy’s lower legs. It was a fun evening, concluded for us in the local bar, sheltering from the chill and enjoying a last vino or cocktail before making our way home after midnight.
The Festa of San Nicola was held on the evening of the 5 th , and the morning of the 6 th of December. Legend has it that during a severe famine San Nicola arrived in Pollutri and finding only a few fava beans, he miraculously multiplied them and managed to feed all the townsfolk. The traditional fava bean cook-up is held annually on this date in honour of the local ‘Santo Patrono’.
This year’s was attended by well over 100 people who waited outside the town’s church for some of the young men to light the woodpiles under the huge copper urns – there are always 12 pots (12 apostles) at 7pm.
Preceded by a Benediction from the priest, and holy water being scattered into the crowd, these teenagers soaked the cotton-ended poles with alcohol and at the appropriate time, flamed them up to light the fires. There is a competition to see whose urn boils first, but I wasn’t there to see how that played out.
In bygone days the beans were given to the poor and elderly in the town, distributed by the church. Today the plates of beans and bread are still enjoyed by the Festival goers. The following day, December 6th, there are market stalls in the town and a solemn procession with a brass ensemble, relics and religious rites, passing through the town’s streets with fireworks to conclude the day.