Love a Good Fire, it’s in Your Genes, Part of your Abruzzo DNA

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Have you ever wondered about your love of a good fire, a passion you can’t describe that was stoked by your Grandparents from Abruzzo especially when they griddled some of their chunky home-made sausages over it.

Your Abruzzo heritage comes with an affinity for fires that were part of the seasonal life cycle of farmers in Abruzzo.  Without the household fire there would be no food, family, and life harder than imaginable high in the mountains during a harsh winter. Although the labour of men was valued outside the house, it was the housewives who earned the nickname ‘angeli del fuoco’ – angels of the fire/heath.

Saint Anthony Abbot was the patron saint of small-holders hence his popularity in Abruzzo.  January 17th  is his feast day, a date adopted from earlier pagan post solstice festivals when fires were lit to ward off disease and evil, welcome the warming sun back and nurture the new crops so vital to the family and successful village life.

The most famous celebration is Fara Filorium Petri in the province of Chieti, when the local villages come together to burn the giant 8 metre high canes  that they have spent the year collecting whilst out gathering their kindling for the next winter. Densely packed and strung together they create the most perfect long burning torches named locally as farachi.  As they are lit the villagers remember San Antonio Abate who appeared to the locals when they were surrounded by the French Army in 1799. Simultaneous with his appearance, the oak trees that circled the village burst into flames and the French army fled fearing giant warriors.

In Barisciano that sits below one of our favourite Medici hilltop towns, Santo Stefano di Sessanio in L’Aquila, they celebrate St John the Baptist Day again with fire. June 24th was the day the Romans celebrated their summer solstice and it’s recreated in Barisciano with the construction of a large fire in the main piazza that children and teenagers jump though after wetting their clothes with the in the ancient animal water troughs that sit nearby. The summer fire traditionally celebrated the end of the harvest, when olive & fruit tree prunings were burnt to symbolise healing, purification and fertility and of course the return of the shepherds back in Abruzzo from warmer climes for the summer.

Of course all Abruzzo ‘fire’ celebrations are accompanied by amazing food, wine and traditional dancing!  If it is time to learn more about your Abruzzo heritage make sure you combine it whilst attending the sagra that your ancestors celebrated, if in doubt sure let Italia Sweet Italia organise your Abruzzo ancestry trip, after all you don’t want to miss out on the party!

Photograph ©LUCCIOLA.ME

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12 thoughts on “Love a Good Fire, it’s in Your Genes, Part of your Abruzzo DNA”

  1. WOW… this explains why I am so keen on cooking on charcoal and addicted to Arrosticini. So much so that I started a BBQ business dedicated to grilling on fire just a few years ago.
    Born in Australia from Abruzzese parents, I always was enchanted by fire and the smell of roasting on its embers. I feel that the Universe has just unraveled another of life’s mysteries to me! Thanks for the insight!

    1. Ciao Nick,
      thanks a lot for your words, we are very happy and proud that now you know something more about your abruzzese roots! And congratulations for your BBQ business, do you prepare arrosticini too? Have you ever been in Abruzzo? If not and one day you would like to discover Abruzzo, don’t hesitate to contact us. Grazie mille and take care

  2. Ciao!
    Yes we make our own Arrosticini here and we educate our customers on this method of cooking! We are teaching many people how to prepare, cook and eat Arrosticini over fire, plus we import directly from Abruzzo, Arrosticini BBQ’s and cube boxes to sell at our retail shop and online.

    On top of this we are Sydney’s 1st Arrosticini street seller – we sell grilled Arrosticini at farmer’s markets and at street festivals as well as cater for Arrosticini parties – I have been cooking Arrosticini professionally for 6 years now! I am left often wondering if my ancestors may have been one of the first to make Arrosticini in Abrruzzo as I can’t explain my fascination and drive to specialize in this form of BBQ.

    The last time I was in Abruzzo was over 20 years ago and I did remember going to that festival with the tall burning bamboo towers – but no body explained to me why and all I remember was a lot of fireworks and smoke whilst watching it. Again I learnt something new here!

    I must come back and must do a food tour and find more Abruzzese products to bring back… Do you want to do some collaboration with me to promote Abruzzese culture in Australia and offer food and history tours perhaps to Abruzzese decedents living abroad?

  3. Ciao Nick,

    again congratulations to export arrosticini and our culture in Australia! So you went to the celebration in Fara Filorium Petri that takes place during these days. Of course we could speak about promotion of Abruzzese culture, thanks! You can contact me by mail (info@italiasweetitalia.com) or we could speak on skype (italiasweetitalia)

    Ciao for now


  4. What a great article that I stumbled across. I am an Aussie of Abruzzese parents like Nick and as I read this I was fascinated that my love of the warmth, colour and mesmerising effect that fire has may be due to my genetic make up. A dear friend of mine believes that ‘cellular memory’ counts for a lot of our behaviours and personality traits. I have been to Abruzzo twice but really want to go back. I have a fascination especially with my dad’s town and want my kids to see where nonno grew up.
    Do you know of any bushwalking tours that are offered in the Gran Sasso? My brother and I talked about ‘heading back to our roots’ and further exploring the many aspects of our ancestry.
    Thanks for the article. Looking forward to reading more!

    1. Ciao Rosemary,
      thanks a lot for your words and your interest in this article. Unfortunately at the moment we don’t offer walking tours in the Gran Sasso but cookery, painting, pottery, Italian language and ancestry holidays based in Vasto, on the Adriatic coast, and with some visits on the mountain villages such us Santo Stefano di Sessanio, Rocca Calascio or Castelli. If you would like to take part to one of our tours just contact us.

      Best regards


  5. I am from Abruzzo. My childhood was spent between Casalbordino and Vasto. Still have relatives there and visit often.
    Great article. Wishing you success.

  6. My grandfather is from Collelongo, and after visiting my relatives there many times, I understand why I love my fireplace in Brooklyn so much!

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