Festa dei Serpari

Festa dei Serpari is rather special religious festival held in the town of Cocullo located in the Italian region of Abruzzo. The festival is organized on the first Thursday in May. It honours the patron saint Dominic Abbot (951-1031) or San Domenico di Sora, like he is known in Italy. People believe that he can protect from the toothache.

Festa dei Serpari
Festa dei Serpari

The procession starts at noon. During procession the statue of the saint is covered with snakes of four different species - grass snake (Natrix natrix), green whip snake (Hierophis viridiflavus), aesculapian snake (Elaphe longissima) and four-lined snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata). Snakes are taken care of by the local snake experts known as "serpari". At the end of the festival all snakes are set free in the nearby forests. The procession also include women wearing traditional costumes. They are carrying baskets with special bread shaped as the snake that bites its own tail.