Halloween is my favorite holiday. Yes, even better than Christmas. With that said, being in Italy for my favorite holiday can pose a problem. Italians don't embrace it like Americans do. In fact, what is more important is the day after - November 1st, All Saint's Day, which is a national holiday. November 2nd is All Soul's Day. In Italy, it's a time to recognize all of the Saints and mourn those who have passed away. It's not a gigantic commercialized event that sends kids into the streets in droves looking for candy.
Since it's so popular in the USA, it is acknowledged in Italy and you'll find that some small towns will have some decorations here and there. But if you want to attend a big Halloween celebration, you only have a handful of choices in the country. One place that has been celebrating Halloween since the 1990's is the beautiful hill town of Corinaldo.
Corinaldo is a stunning hamlet that is worth a visit any time of year - in fact, it is listed as one of Italy's most beautiful small towns. This year, Corinaldo had a four-day celebration starting on Friday and ending on Monday night. Various events began during the afternoon but the crowds really turned out in the evening. Children had a ball getting dressed up. There were adults in costume, too. Here it's typical to stick with basic Halloween costumes - witches, devils, a ghost, a mummy. One thing you won't see is someone dressed as an Italian political figure (something Americans will do with American politicians).
For 3 euro you could have your face painted so I jumped at the chance and was made to look like a scary cat. Around every corner there were stalls where you could buy refreshments like freshly roasted chestnuts, warm and chilled wine and french fries. They also had attractions, that although modest by American standards, were a blast to experience. For example, the Tunnel of Fear was a maze of dark pathways inside a building. Around every turn someone would leap out to scare you - even though you knew it was coming it still worked every time. There was an attraction called The House, which was referred to as more of a science project than a "Scary Boo" house. Inside were really clever optical illusions, tricks with gravity, and interesting mind challenges. In the town square there was music and a live (abbreviated) performance of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show". That was, I must admit, a bit odd considering the subject matter. It started at 7pm and there were children of all ages around so my husband and I had to wonder about whether that was the best choice considering the age group, but hey, who am I to decide?
The festivities continued until 2am each night. Tents and restaurants stayed open late to serve up delicious meals and drinks, and everyone in town seemed thrilled to be out and about during what is ordinarily not a celebrated holiday in Italy. Here the celebration is very family oriented, it's a little rough around the edges, it has its own flavor and it's a refreshing contrast to what I'm used to in the States. Next year our plan is to visit the Devil's Bridge just north of Lucca where a spookier celebration is supposed to take place annually. I can't wait!