Every year in Novoli on the 16,17,18 of January, a “fire festival” takes place to honour Saint Antonio Abate, the patron saint of the town. This event, known for its peculiarity, summons thousands of visitors and pilgrims from every corner of Lecce’s province and beyond.
Saint Antonio is also known as the Saint of the little pig or more appropriately the Saint of the animals, because of people belief that he protects courtyard animals or living in stables. The involvement of the population is especially when the building of the monumental bonfire is underway by using vine-shoots that are set on fire on the night’s eve of the celebration.
When the pruning vineyard is done, then the vine-shoots are used for the Focara’s building; faggots are tied together and carried to a peripheral large square where people pile them up skillfully until they create a pyre about 25 metres high and 20 metres wide.
The whole building takes more than a month to be finished and tens of volunteers are needed. In the eve’s afternoon, after the Mass is celebrated, the procession takes place with the statue of the Saint carried through the town streets. Finally, at night, the spectacular bonfire’s lighting happens by means of pyrotechnical batteries placed along the ridges of the bonfire up to the top in a suggestive atmosphere.