Once today’s Guy Fawkes Day schenanigans die down in England, it looks like Italy is the place to be in November, with a bunch of interesting and strange opportunities:
Festa del Cornuto, Rocca Cantero, Italy (just outside Rome)
The Festa del Cornuto, or “Festival of the Horns”, honors the perils of infidelity with adultery-themed parade floats and general gleeful mayhem. Celebrations also feature the chestnut, a local delicacy, which is roasted over open fires, and bawdy poetry about love and loss and deception.
So about those horns: In Italy, the hand gesture more commonly associated with Rocking All Night long is actually a sign of the cuckhold, or the injured party in an unfaithful relationship. Some say that the sign comes from the Tufted Cuckoo, the female of which have been known to get around behind the backs of their mates, leaving the males to raise the eggs of another cuckoo. To fare la corna, or “make the horns”, is to hold the two finger gesture up as an insult, however also popular as a group picture prank when held up behind the head. The same hand gesture, when called the “Malocchio” is used to ward off the evil eye, and is purportedly what inspired Ronnie James Dio to fare la corna to Black Sabbath.
La Fugarena, Piazza d’Armi, Terra del Sole, Italy
We’re big fans of the giant fire here at Atlas Obscura, and they seem to have it going on at the ancient harvest festival known as La Fugarena. In one of those pagan-cum-Catholic traditions, the festival follows the pattern of harvest celebrations all over Europe, with feasting and revalry, ending with a mighty big bonfire. Most of the harvesty fires have already taken place for the year, but the Fugarina was moved to this later date several years ago.
Festival of la Salute, Basilica Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, Italy
To celebrate the end of a devestating plague in 1630 which decimated the population and killed the Doge and his family, the city of Venice built one of its most lovely and striking churches, the Basilica Santa Maria della Salute. Following construction of the church in 1687, a tradition of an annual pilrimage of thanksgiving began, and is continued to this day every November. Since there is no bridge leading directly to the church, a temporary bridge of boats was created each year for pilgrims to cross. These days the boat bridge has been replaced with a folding wooden structure.
This might be a good time to visit the various plague quarantine islands in the lagoon that the Venetians tried (with limited success) to use to prevent the spread of disease. Recently the bodies of 1500 plague victems were found on the island of Lazzaretto Vecchio, and the islands of San Servolo, Poveglia, and the lost island of San Marco were also plague quarantines.
Happy travels! Send pictures!
More on the history here: Venice Explorer