Dance! You’ve been bitten by the tarantula!

If while walking through the streets of region Apulia, you inevitably start dancing and you feel you can’t stop, then you’re listening to Tarantella!

The Tarantella is mainly a partner dance, which features numerous twirls and spins. The weird name, probabily comes from a kind of wolf spider, called “tarantula”, whose bite was popularly believed to be highly poisonous and to lead to a hysterical condition known as “tarantism”.

Some say that someone who had supposedly been bitten by the tarantula spider had to dance to an upbeat tempo to sweat the poison out. Yet, there’s no suggestion that a spider existed in Italy that could cause depression or delusions!

Through the years, Tarantella has become a kind of courtship dance.  Usually music for the tarantella is in 6/8 or 3/4 time, or you may find some versions in 4/4 time with a lot of triplets. Though the dance is partnered, many of the steps are danced away from each other, and steps together are often taken with the partners side to side instead of face to face. As a matter of fact, years ago it was disreputable that men and women would touch each other in the public, especially if they weren’t married. So Tarantella was a way to court each other, without breaking traditions or being ashamed.

The woman teases the man by dancing all around him (mainly barefooted) and voluptuously passing a scarf around his neck and the man replies by putting his hands around her, always paying attention not to touch her. They dance according to the characteristic steps, which remind of small, rythmical jumps. The dance goes on like this till the end, in an exciting swirl of music.

We warmly recommend you to attend a show with Tarantella music and dance: even if you are not a dance lover, the rythm of the music, beaten by typical southern instruments like tambourines and castanets, will involve you so much, that you can just start dancing and at the end of the show, you’ll feel part of this magic land.

Never attended a Taranta show? Watch this video!

The fish “sagra” – Mareviglioso

One of the most typical events in Italy is the “sagra”: it originally was a town festival meant to celebrate the saints; currently a “sagra” is a food festival, which attracts many people also from the surrounding areas. Many cities and towns in Italy every year (especially in the summer) organize a festival to celebrate the most typical food they have. And what’s really typical in Polignano a Mare? Fish, what else?!

The Fish Food Festival in Polignano a Mare, usually takes place at the end of August and you can enjoy 3 days of taste, music and cheerfulness! A curiosity: the festival is called Mareviglioso and it takes its name from a wonderful song from a famous Italian singer (Domenico Modugno), who was born in Polignano a Mare. It is actually a pun between the title of the song Meraviglioso (=marvellous) and Mare(=sea)viglioso.

Charming melodies spread in the air along the promenade, where dozens stalls cook fish for people, coming until late at night. Old sailors songs follow the people, through their itinerary towards the discovery of taste and tradition. Taking part to this festival, you will have the chance to see how seafarers really cook fish; the street is full of huge braziers, where fresh fish is cooked upon request, giving you the opportunity to taste fresh-cooked food.

Amongst all the kind of food (shellfish, mollusks and other) cooked in different ways (mainly fried and grilled), what we warmly suggest you to taste is the sandwich with octopus: it may look weird as soon as you see it and some of you (especially women, we suppose!) may get impresses by the idea of eating an octopus sandwich, because the octopus is in its original shape and not cut or else, but if you really want to taste and smell the sea, you can’t miss it! After the first bite, you’ll ask for more!

Framed amongst typical balconies and natural caves, the sea, with its fruits, colors and the work of fishermen, becomes the protagonist of this cheerful festival, the summer event that animates the charming town of Polignano a Mare with culinary events, concerts, historical reenactments, exhibitions and street performers. This is where artisans, local producers and wineries from region Apulia show the best pastries, seafood specialties and the finest wines ready to be tasted. A food and wine festival that enriches, with delicious flavors and scents, this charming summer party.

You’ll definitely won’t miss a concert of Tarantella, the typical music of region Apulia, which is amongst the most recognized forms of traditional southern Italian music. (Click here to learn more about Tarantella). The rhythm of this music will overwhelm you and you won’t be able to stop dancing!

The memory of the past blends with the warmth of a simple and genuine celebration. The ancient traditions of the seafaring revives in the Palio of the Sea, the historic regatta dedicated to St. Vito, patron saint of the town of Polignano a Mare. It is here that, with strokes of oars and balancing on fishing boats, in a magnificent and joyful show, that Cala Paguro, Cala Ponte, Cala Ripagnola, Cala San Vito, Cala Portalga and Cala Incina (the main areas of the town) challenge each other to win the Palio, the banner, which represents the city of Polignano Mare.