A brief summary of the Parade

The “Parata dei Turchi” (literally “Parade of the Turks”, hereafter simply the “Parade”) is a historical representation that takes place on May 29 in Potenza (Italy) focused on some of the most important historical events concerning the City and the traditions of the Potentine people (citizens of Potenza). The Parade is intimately connected to the figure of Gerardo della Porta from Piacenza, bishop of Potenza from 1111 to 1119 a.C., which soon after death became the new Patron Saint of Potenza.

The Parade takes place through a procession crossing the City, starting from the "Alfredo Viviani" stadium and closing in the Old City centre with the lighting of the Iàccara and the blessing of the figures of the Parade made by the bishop at the Cathedral of San Gerardo. Over a thousand figures take part in the procession, which parade in ancient costumes, as well as numerous animals, vintage floats, simulacra and unique artefacts such as the Iàccara, the Ship and the Temple of San Gerardo. It is estimated that every year at least 100,000 people do attend to the Parade along the pathway of the procession. The Parade boasts the title of "Traditional Heritage of Italy" awarded from the Italian Ministry of Tourism in 2011, representing one of the most ancient and important cultural tradition of the Nation. It was also awarded with the titles “Meraviglia d’Italia” by National Youth Forum and “Patrimonio Immateriale d’Italia” by the Italian Central Institute for Immaterial Heritage (ICPI).

The origin of the Parade is still uncertain, its uniqueness is evidenced by the fact that it roots in the history of Potenza, of the southern Italy and Europe, with the overlap of historical, cultural, religious and folkloristic elements pushing itself into characteristic elements that refer to popular traditions and legends. To date, the Parade has undergone numerous adaptations that occurred over the centuries, transforming the event from a festival with popular origins as it has been until the end of the nineteenth century into a representation with deep historical, cultural and religious meanings. Especially since the 1950s, when the Parade has been redefined in its modern structure culminating recently in the creation of a Disciplinary (White Book of Parade), which defines the structure, figures, phases and meanings of all the components. This Disciplinary was developed and is maintained by a “Technical Committee of Parade” which lasts three years, moreover it is officially adopted with a resolution by Municipality of Potenza that takes care of the annual organization of the Parade.

"[...] Anzi nella vigilia a sera, appena cominciava a farsi scuro, in ogni cuntana, o vico, in ogni larghetto, e lungo tutta la Pretoria si accendevano centinaia e centinaia di fanoi (falò), cioè ammassi di sarmenti, cannucce, scroppi, e ginestre secche e verdi, in guisa che tutta la città pareva andasse in fumo e fiamme, costituendo ciò la caratteristica e tradizionale illuminazione di quella festa. Per la strada in quella sera, tra il fumo denso ed amaro e tanti fuochi crepitanti, bisognava procedere a salti ed a tentoni, e sentivasi venir meno il respiro. Qui e là si stava ammuinare (affaccendati) a vestire i Turchi, che poi si ragunavano innanzi la Chiesa di San Gerardo (Duomo) per fare il giro, con la Nave e col Carro, intorno la città. La sfilata dei Turchi era, ed è la parte più originale, brillante e fantastica della festa popolare;" Raffaele Riviello, "Ricordi e note su costumanze, vita e pregiudizi del popolo potentino", 1893.

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Origins of the Parade

Structure and Stages

Characters and Components