The festival of San Benedetto is an important and solemn occasion for Taggia. Ever since 1626 the 12th of February has been celebrated in the this small Ligurian town. The local council took the decision to honour the saint in recognition of the town being saved from invasion by marauding Savoyan troops. This was part of the thirty years war (1618-1648) which devastated large parts of Europe.
Although almost four centuries have passed the local inhabitants still honour the memory of their saint and the spirit of the occasion remains unchanged.
The traditional festival which takes place on the Saturday evening, follows a well established pattern. Bonfires, which are ignited in every neighbourhood of the town, illuminate the facades of the ancient houses, palaces and churches. On a cold February evening the heat from these flames appears to take on an intensity which spans the centuries.
During the evening’s celebrations the most daring youngsters will set light to ‘I furgari’, powerful fireworks encased in sticks of bamboo, which are seen as both a testimony to the power of fire and a test of the courage of those who would light them.
Friendly fire for Taggia which in this ancient rite recalls the miraculous intervention of their medieval patron saint. As the enemy approached the town, intent on plunder, a wall of flame barred their path keeping them away from the small Riviera town.
On Saturday evening all of the hostelries of the centre of the town are open. Here, anyone who has made the rounds of the various bonfires will be able to enjoy a glass of the local produce accompanied by typical Taggian food: canestrelli, fennel biscuits, vegetable tart and other delicacies.
On the Sunday there is a religious festival when a procession in honour of San Benedetto is held. There is also a mass in the little chapel dedicated to him in the district of Colletto.
The last Sunday of the month will see Taggia transformed in to a 17th century town. The historic centre of the town will play host to a cast of approximately 400 characters which will include nobleladies and gentlemen, soldiers, children, townspeople and religious figures…. Over the last few years special scenery has also been used to great effect.
On the Saturday the historical market is unveiled throughout the streets of the town. In the San Martino area there is a re-enactment of the battle of 1625 with the participation of a nearby riding school and historical societies who are part of the Federazione Italiana Gruppi Storici.
The reenactments and recreations lend a 17th century feel which carries on in to the evening in the area of Trinità where an old style military encampment is recreated. You should not miss this as the singing and dancing bring a truly authentic feel to proceedings which will give you a shiver down the spine. A true glimpse of a night from the 1600’s.
On Sunday the culmination of events is a historical procession throughout the streets of the town. In the morning you are well advised to take note of the preparations going on in the various areas of the historic centre of town. Each of these gives life to an episode from the daily life of the period or relates to a historical fact or event from the period. Most praiseworthy of all is the research carried out by the organizations in the neighbourhoods who, year on year, change the setting of their particular tale. The attention given to detail and the evident passion for their festival, only emphasise how the ‘Tabiesi’ are so strongly attached to their heritage. Over the course of many years this event has become one of the most important of it’s type in the whole of Italy.
Saturday 11th February
21.00 Traditional festival with bonfire and setting off ‘furgari’
Sunday 12th February
16.00 Procession in honour of San Benedetto Revelli
Saturday 25th February
10.00 Opening of the Medieval market
11.30 Welcome for the visiting historical associations
15.30 Close to the riding school of San Martino there is the recreation of the battle of
1625. This is presented by the town of Taggia and by members of the Federazione
Italiana Giochi Storici.
21.00 In the Baslica Madonna Miracolosa: A ceremonial presentation of candles by
the Federazione Italiana Giochi Storici.
22.00 Rione Trinità: Military encampment, Jesters, dancing and singing, ’furgari’.
Sunday 26th February
10.00/14.00 In Rioni,the opening of the 17th century setting with the participation of
‘Tabiesi’ (Tabiesi is the name given to the local inhabitants )
15.00 Military exhibition given by the guest historical societies
16.00 Departure of the Historical Procession
17.30 Piazza Cavour ‘GRAN FINALE’ and prize giving.