24/25 June – Acitrezza
Traditional celebrations in honor of the patron saint John the Baptist in Acitrezza (CT) with the suggestive pantomime of “U Pisci a mari” in the waters of the marina near the beautiful faraglioni. The festival also includes religious rites, processions, parades and the swordfish festival.
The rites of the Feast of San Giovanni in Acitrezza
The feast begins on June 23 with the eucharistic celebration of the eve and the procession of the Holy Relic through the streets of the village. On the 24th of June at 10.00 am the solemn unveiled of the venerated statue of the Patron Saint is held and in the afternoon the traditional “U pisci a mari” pantomime, which takes place in the mirror of water inside the old pier in front of the haulage of Acitrezza.
At 17.00 from the Urnazza district the folk parade starts for the historical center of Acitrezza. At 7.00 pm latrionfale exit of the simulacrum of St. John the Baptist from the churchyard of the Mother Church, for the start of the procession through the streets of the village that will end in the late evening with the fireworks display and the return to the church.
Day 25 June is the day of city devotion, which will start at 11.30 with the solemn Eucharistic celebration animated by the Confraternity of St. John the Baptist. At 19.00 a new triumphant exit of the simulacrum of San Giovanni begins the procession through the streets of the village that will end at night with the artistic closing fireworks display and the spectacular entrance into Piazza del Fercolo.
“U pisci a mari” from fishing to pantomime
The pantomime of “U pisci a mari” is a popular trezzota tradition that dates back to around 1750, when the wooden statue of San Giovanni Battista was inaugurated.
Pantomime is a propitiatory rite, a parody of the swordfish fishing that took place in ancient times in the Strait of Messina, where a sailor (the rais) from a high antenna planted in the middle of a boat, spy the fish passing through the strait; in another boat with a smaller lance, four sailors are ready for the oar, and when the cry of the guard announces the appearance of the fish they rode with full force: the rais directs the course, pronouncing words in dialect, so that the cetacean come under fire, he is furiously mounted with a harpoon to which he would attach a head of canape fixed on the boat.
The fish is so wounded and sinks by pulling the rope, which is long enough, but soon dies and is pulled up between the festive shouts of other boats of the curious and the antenna that sends blessings, and that would change in curses or curses if the shot fails. The swordfish fishing represents, for the protagonist people, the continuous struggle engaged with the natural elements, to survive in a land that has fish as bread.
In Acitrezza this is the scene that we want to imitate with the tradition of “U pisci a mari”, but the action takes on a comic, folkloric, exaggerated.
Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist
On August 29th in Acitrezza we celebrate the anniversary of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist. The simulacrum of the patron saint is placed in the church square, where the Eucharistic celebration is held. A pyrotechnic show follows, and the Baptist’s statue of the artistic wooden statue returns to the church.
Festival of the Swordfish of San Giovanni
During the festivities of the patron saint there is also the traditional Sagra del Pesce Spada di San Giovanni. A two-day culinary event that Acitrezza dedicates to the precious swordfish meat, which for decades has been a symbol of economic development and a source of livelihood for many families of the coastal village.
In the maritime location, you can taste the fish, cooked and well seasoned by expert cooks. Large grids placed at the center of the tortoise haulage porthole ready to churn out until midnight so good swordfish, and satisfy the palate of many gourmets come specially from every part of Sicily.
For more information
Festival of San Giovanni in Acitrezza
Site U pisci a mari
Parish site of Acitrezza