If you have never heard of La ‘Ndocciata in Agnone perhaps you didn’t know that it is the largest fire ritual in all of Italy. Let’s find out a little more about this mysterious tradition in the Isernia province of the tiny Molise region.
Dates to mark down: 2, 9 & 24 December 2023
Agnone is a mountain village in upper Molise, famous for the production of bells. Its ‘Ndocciata is a Christmas tradition linked to fire and is one of the most impressive fire processions in the world. Those who have been lucky enough to see it describe it as an intense and indescribable emotion that can only be truly experienced in person. Even Pope John Paul II was fascinated by it and brought it to Rome with pilgrims from all over the world when he hosted the event in St. Peter’s Square in 1996.
‘Ndoccia is dialect for “big torch” and was most definitely part of ancient pagan practices tied to the Winter Solstice on December 21st. Since ancient times, humans have had a special connection with fire, considered from the beginning of their existence as a fundamental source of life and an element that fertilizes and purifies nature.
Every year, at nightfall on December 9th (varies) and 24th, the “clans” of the five districts of Agnone gather together. With the intense sound of the 100 bells of the village, hundreds of people of all ages light the gigantic torches and head down the village streets, transforming them into an enormous and exciting river of fire.
But it doesn’t end here because for the second year in a row, on December 2nd, the Ritual Fire Festival will be back. This event involves 15 different municipalities that unite and bring their own fire ritual, taking you on a unique journey of the ancient traditions of various regions of Italy, such as Molise, Abruzzo, Puglia, and Tuscany.
Continue reading about the fascinating Isernia province.