Alessandria del Carretto and the Pita Festival

In Alessandria del Carretto for the May festival

© Foto di Angelo Maggio

Tradition and folklore

Feb 16, 2024 11:33 AM

Alessandria del Carretto - a village immersed in the suggestive natural setting of the Pollino National Park, in the province of Cosenza - is famous for two very popular events, among the most authentic of Calabrian folklore: the Historical Carnival of Alessandria del Carretto and the Pita Festival (Pitë). 

The Pita Festival takes place every year on 3 May, on the feast day of the patron saint - St Alexander - and it is one of the oldest nature rebirth rituals in the Mediterranean.

In reality, the collective ritual begins on the second Sunday in April, when the community gathers in the Pollino woods to inaugurate the first phase of a tradition suspended between the sacred and the profane: the cutting of a fir tree about 20 metres high (pitë, in Alexandrian dialect). The chosen fir tree is felled, divided into trunk and top, and cleaned. On the last Sunday in April, the tree is carried by hand to the village, accompanied by the accordion, bagpipes and folk songs celebrating it as a symbol of virility and rebirth.

The “Pita” is reunited with the severed top in Piazza San Vincenzo, in the centre of the village, in a kind of reunion between "male" and "female".

On 3 May, the feast day of Pope Alexander the Martyr, the monumental Pollino Silver Fir is consecrated to its saint: the profane rite thus merges with the sacred, in an atmosphere of festive joy. The top - decorated with gifts and typical local products - is the subject of the so-called "climb of the fir tree", a veritable Game of Cuccagna, in line with the more famous Fir Festivals (or May Tree) that take place in various European countries.

The Pita Festival ends with its thunderous fall, greeted by applause.

Visit Alessandria del Carretto on the occasion of the festival and discover all the beauties of a village that is part of the Authentic Villages of Italy circuit, for the preciousness of its historic centre and its age-old traditions.