As soon as we heard about Notte delle Luci, we were excited. What began with a saint’s request for each family to light a single candle in a tiny Italian village has, over time, exploded into a psychedelic festival of extraordinary lights. It’s a fabulous 5-day display of devotion to Scorrano’s patron saint, Santa Domenica, who saved the town from the plague in 1600. Her feast day lies on 5 July and so then the festivities commence each year.
The festival has come a long way from single candles, but tradition and craftsmanship still reign supreme. The luminarie light structures, built with wood and carpets of LED bulbs, are a Southern Italian tradition which has been upheld to its fullest in Scorrano – thanks to three companies who have continued the legacy.
From 9pm onwards, each company takes it in turn to showcase that year’s creation in a show of lights set to music. There have been castles, domes, spheres and even an eiffel tower. This year’s three centrepieces were a cathedral, a giant cross and – our favourite – a striking pyramid in the central plaza.
The sounds of everything from Frank Sinatra to Pink Floyd provide the soundtrack as the luminaries dance to the music. All are made up of intricate woven detail, and it’s worth catching them from different views as they cycle through the night.
The lights steal the show but festival accoutrements are there to sate your appetite for snacks or souvenirs. Be sure to try some of the fresh produce from the region. Puglia has some of Italy’s finest food.
And don’t forget to explore some of the surrounding area during the daytime. We can recommend Otranto and Lecce for a dose of seaside and culture respectively. Otranto has some of the bluest sea we have ever seen, and Lecce is a baroque delight with a fabulous sunken ampitheatre.
Notte delle Luci is the type of festival that puts the cherry on the top of a summertime trip to Puglia. Prepare to be wowed.