San Severo in Puglia is an interesting place. It’s located in the province of Foggia on the flat part west of the mountainous spur bit called the Gargano. They make good wine there. A big influence on the local dialects was the Tratturo del Re, the ancient transhumance path you can see just out of town, linking Aquila in the Abruzzo to Foggia in Puglia.
It’s a baroque town, but the bits of the Romanesque you find are oddly out of whack, like in the church pictured below.
But that’s not all that is wacky. The procession of the Madonna del Soccorso, the Black Madonna worshiped in San Severo, is celebrated in May.
It’s one of those crazy festivals celebrated in the south, like Matera’s Madonna Bruna. It’s all about the daredevil youth. In this case, as in the famous running of the bulls in Pamplona, the youth risk life and limb (well, sorta) running down il tunnel della paura, the tunnel of fear.
What they do is line the route followed by the Black Madonna with a long “fuse” upon which has been tied bags of gunpowder and light it at just the right moment. Kids called “fujenti” run in the midst of all the explosions, trying to keep ahead of the next one, all to prove devotion to the Madonna Nera.
Crazy? Yup. But really, you gotta see it. So here:
Here’s the official page where you can find the schedule for the current festival year (in Italian).