Italy TravelWhere to Go in Abruzzo: Sulmona and Coculla

Where to Go in Abruzzo: Sulmona and Coculla
Published on Monday, July 25, 2011 by

You practically can’t get more different experiences than a small city famous for its almond candies and a town famous for its snakes. Where to find these experiences? In the region of Abruzzo

Ever wonder where those colorful sugar-covered almonds called confetti come from? Sulmona is their birthplace and you can’t walk the city’s main street, Corso Ovidio, without seeing at least one store every few feet, displaying life-like flowers made of these traditional candies. (There are confetti colors for every occasion – white for weddings, green for engagements, yellow for baby showers, red for graduations.)

There’s much to visit in sweet Sulmona – the Cattedrale di San Panfilo has survived numerous earthquakes over the centuries – but the true attractions the city’s parks, picturesque streets and expansive Piazza Garibaldi, complete with Roman aqueduct. Latin poet Ovid was born here and his proclamation, Sulmo mihi patria est, (Sulmona is my homeland) is inscribed around the city. And of course, don’t miss the candy…

Also in Abruzzo – What has made this small town of some 400 people famous throughout Italy, and indeed the world? Snakes. In early May, a number of grass snakes are captured (the town has snakes on hand all year round however for curious visitors) and on the first Thursday of May, they are placed on a statue of San Domenico and paraded through town in a centuries old tradition.

A pagan ritual, designed to protect against snake bites, and it has been transformed into a Catholic rite. Legend has it that if the snakes don’t cover the face of San Domenico, then the year ahead will be a good one. Worried that one snake might take off and end up in your camera bag? “No,” says one villager. “They don’t move because they want to be on him.”

By Kathy McCabe

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3 Responses
    • The snake festival, which is held on the first Thursday of May, is one of Italy’s strangest festivals! I actually held a snake here during the procession (against my will), luckily they are harmless! Cocullo and Sulmona are both very charming cities!

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    • Abruzzo is one of Italy’s truly undiscovered and magical regions.
      During my journey to Abruzzo in April 2008, I was enchanted by the vast beauty of
      the pristine wilderness of the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park, the genuine warmth and hospitality of the Abruzzese people and delectable foods, which carry an influence to Italian restaurants throughout the US.
      From costal towns such as Pescara to mysterious mountain villages, the Abruzzo region is sure to delight both first time and seasoned travelers to Italy.

    • avatar
    • Love confetti! In my family we always had to have 5 in a bag – no more, no less. Does anyone know why?

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