The Festa di Santa Domenica – or the Festival of Light and illumination, as it is now known, is one of Europes oldest and most long standing celebrations, having its origins millennia ago in Roman times during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian.
Saint Domenica, born 287 AD , was originally named Kyriaki and was the daughter of a wealthy provincial family from the town of Tropea in modern day Calabria. Practicing Christianity her family came to the attention of the authorities and were subjected to ever increasing pressure to renounce their convictions and beliefs. Kyriaki however, not only continued to practice Christianity but, due to her faith and extraordinary miraculous acts, encouraged many conversions to the outlawed religion. To save their lives, her parents Dorotea and Arsenia eventually accepted forced exile to the region of the Euphrates – but Kyriaki stayed in southern Italy touring and preaching throughout the region.
During her travels she visited the town now known as Scorrano of which she became particularly fond. Eventually however she was arrested, tried and sentenced to death by being thrown to the lions. However the lions remained impassive and docile around her and at the end of the day she still remained unharmed. Incarcerated and tried again she was sentenced by death by beheading, which, at the age of just 16 years old, this time was duly carried out on July 6th 303 AD. Originally interred for many years at Vizzini, her remains were later transferred to the Cathedral of Tropea and reburied.
The town of Scorrano like many others in due course became victim to a virulent form of the plague sweeping into southern Europe, and during the height of the outbreak, Kyriaki (now known as Saint Domenica) appeared in a vision to an old woman in the afflicted town, and she promised that if the townspeople lit an oil lamp in the windows of each house where the inhabitants were sick, she would offer them her protection and patronage by saving them from the plague.
Soon the town glistened with lights and the plagues grip on the populace weakened, the people who had obeyed her wishes recovered, and the people proclaimed her as the towns’ Patron Saint.
The Festival of Light and Illumination was born.
Today the town of Scorrano is ablaze with light on the 5th, 6th and 7th July each year – these being the three nights still dedicated to the Saints memory, and in an area of Italy renowned for its festivals, festas and amazing displays of lights and fireworks, Scorrano manages every year to put every other light festival in the shade. Every year Scorrano holds a different theme, and in previous years, famous landmarks of the cities of Rome, Paris London, New York, India’s Taj Mahal have all been depicted and fantastically replicated in multicoloured rainbows of light high over the roofs of Scorrano.
The Carnival atmosphere washes over the town for the festivals duration, with parades, street food, open air restaurants and cafes, local, regional and national delicacies are cooked on pavement stalls, musicians, jugglers and entertainers perform for the exuberant crowds of people of all ages, from small children to elderly pensioners all enjoying the holiday atmosphere and fun of this unforgettable festa. Located just 40 mins from our Villas, this occasion is an event that really and truly should not be missed.