By Rosario Mariani, http://www.europebychoice.com
December 8th is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and Italy officially prepares for il Santo Natale. In most of Southern Italy, it is quite common to see the zampognari playing Christmas carols in grottoes, shrines and other religious places throughout the area.
As Americans, we associate the bagpipes with the Irish and Scots when they parade down
our Main Street in their ceremonial kilts. But, in Italy the sound of the zampogne bagpies immediately ushers in the Christmas season. I recall vividly as a young boy that the Zampognari, who were originally shepherds, came down to my small village from the Maiella mountains and would enter each home to play “Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle” right in front of the presepio prepared by my mother.
To this day when I hear “Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle” I think of the Zampognari Abruzzesi. Unfortunately I rely on a CD player for the tune but nothing can replace the live performance of the zampognari and i pifferari in front of my old fireplace that warmed our hearts at Christmas time.
Many feel that the tradition is dying out, but I’m told that in Abruzzo, Molise, Lazio, Campania, Basilicata, Calabria and Sicily it is very much alive. This brings happiness to us all.
Rosario Mariani is the owner/CEO of Europe By Choice, which promotes travel to Italy and other select European countries. He has more than 40 years of experience in the travel industry, previously serving as Director of Italy Product for Italiatour and Club ABC Tours, and also in other positions with EuroFly, Alitalia and Air France.