Easter in Sulmona

09 September 2010 Published in Abruzzo Itineraries
Easter in Sulmona Creative Commons Licence - image by Nicola Vinciguerra.


Madonna che scappa in piazza - Sulmona

Visitors to Sulmona on Easter Sunday can witness an evocative procession 'La Madonna che Scappa' which celebrates Christ's resurrection. It is celebrated on Easter day in Piazza Garibaldi, after the mass. A huge statue of the Madonna, carried by a group of Sulmonesi part of Confraternities, is run through the square towards her resurrected Son.

It is a traditional folk commemoration that goes back to the Middle Ages with a parade of believers, the liberation of doves and the pealing of church bells which ends the ceremony. A little before midday the representatives of St Peter and St John announce the resurrection of Jesus to Mary by knocking on the door of the Church of San Filippo.

View of Sulmona
View of the main square in Sulmona from the Roman acqueduct

After much convincing and general commotion, Mary is eventually persuaded to leave her hiding place. She bursts through the door and hurtles towards the town's main square. Reaching the nearby fountain she finally realizes the truth and symbolically drops her black cloak and white handkerchief to reveal a red rose as she embraces her son. At that moment the whole town celebrates with fireworks and the releasing of doves into the air.

A visit of Sulmona 

April is a fantastic time to travel to Abruzzo, especially Sulmona in the province of L'Aquila.  It is easily reachable by car or else you can take the early train from Termini station in Rome. The route winds through the hills separating Lazio from Abruzzo before descending spectacularly into the 'Conca Peligna' where the city is located.

At this time of year the trip should offer every imaginable season as the low land basks in the warmth while the peaks remain resolutely in winter. On arrival at Sulmona you should turn right outside the station and walk up the hill for a good 20 minutes. Or else take a taxi or bus and be there in seconds.

Sulmona's most famous son is the Latin poet, Ovid, who never forgot his roots and often mentioned old 'Sulmo' in his work. History also tells us that the area was originally ruled by the Peligni tribe which shows how far back the confetti makers must be able to trace their ancestors.

The town still retains traces of every subsequent era of the last 2000 years up to and including the Second World War, where the flak and crossfire can still be seen on some of the buildings in the main square.

Do look out for the old cinema dating from the 30's which also gives a feel for that era. A classic period building which is unfortunately closed last time we looked.

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