a pagan easter

In Italy, you know, there are many people who follow the easter processions.
There are many choiche: the normal easter mass, the friday night procession, and sometimes fairs in all the so-called holy week. So-called bacause often it’s just an excuse to make a party… and the religion stays somewhere else.

But in some little villages, in many regions around Italy, survive some ancient traditions. Processions that are like centuries ago. Outside Italy, is very famous the holy week in Zamora, in Spain (sorry, the website’s only in spanish).

Last easter, I’ve followed a particular procession in Castiglione Garfagnana, a little and semi-unknown village in the most famous italian region: Tuscany.

Castiglione Garfagnana, like the name suggests, is in the Apuane Alps (where the Carrara marble come from)… but in the “wrong side“.
So, the Garfagnana has passed the centuries separate from the rest of the region, with rare tourists and more emigrants than other areas around.
This isolation haven’t kept distant only the tourists (and moneys they carry with), but has permitted to keep many of the oldest traditions, too.

La processione de’ Crocioni

Crocioni” means “big crosses”, but is not pure italian.

The procession is the holy Thursday’s night, after dinner (it starts around nine), and this is the first particuality.
It represents the Jesus’ passion… one day before all the other representations.
It sounds like the first evidence of how old is it. Only until Middle Age the days started with the day before’s sunset, and only some protestant churches have kept this tradition. The roman catholic one starts all the passion’s celebrations on Friday.

The Crocioni start from the Castiglione Garfagnana’s main church, a nice example of the roman architecture from XII century.

In front of the church were some roman soldiers, and a cross. A real cross, built in real, weighted wood.
In 2007 the holy thursday was the 20 march, and it was a very cold night…

At nine, a hooded Jesus arrived, with bare feet and a crown of thorns.

All are in silence, and the only noise you can hear is a drum, played by a soldier.
The drum’s sound is the only noise for the entire procession.

After a short “process“, with no court, the procession starts.
It’s followed by some hooded people, roman soldiers, roman high dignitares… and the people.
In silence, only with the sound of the drum.

The parade starts with the so-called “injuries’ cross“, with all the passion’s symbols.

Jesus follow, with the cross, and the romans after him.



The procession’s itinerary is along all the village, with the canonical steps.

At the end, all come back to the church, and the priest blesses the people.

And it’s all.
In my experiece, few things are as pagan as this procession.
I’m not interested in the religion, but in history, and in Castiglione Garfagnana I saw a relict of sometring ancient, survived during a long time. And, maybe, to some religion’s changes.

Now, the gallery complete this post, with all the shooting data.
All the photos are with flash, because torches were the only source of light.
But unfortunetly photos are not be able to describe how we have felt.

If someone happens near the Apuane Alps during easter holydays, this is an interesting thing to see.

View Larger Map

Comments are closed.