The Holy Week festivities in the valleys of the Alps of Liguria are marked by their mysticism and strong sense of tradition. Here lies a concentration of villages where processions of hooded penitents and medieval traditions have been handed down from generation to generation like precious heirlooms. In the surroundings of the Italian Riviera, along the mountain roads that climb up to the most remote crossing points along the Italian border lies Ceriana, the Singing Village, an age-old charming place where Holy Week is celebrated according to old rituals performed by its four confraternities or brotherhoods.
On the afternoon of Holy Thursday, the ceremonies begin when the four brotherhoods of the city arrive in the Church of Saints Peter and Paul. Tradition spiral longhorns made of chestnut bark herald their arrival and tabulae, wooden drum like tables are stuck with an iron rod producing a deep resonant sound. A solemn procession is formed and winds its way through the village’s alleys with the participation of the hooded clergymen draped in a traditional dress topped with a cape in one of the colors of the four confraternities. On Holy Friday, the Stations of the Cross are followed by the Little Angels Procession, where children wearing angel costumes carry the symbols of the Passion: the rooster, nails, hammer and crown of thorns. Easter Sunday Mass is joyously celebrated with the songs, horns and tabulae. Within the tranquil village, the sizable assembled crowd and the beauty of choral singing makes Holy Week in Ceriana a unique, engaging and fascinating event.
In Montalto during the night between Holy Thursday and Good Friday, a group of men and boys sing sacred chants to the melancholic and mournful sounds of a trumpet and drums as they walk through the old streets of the village well into the night. On Holy Saturday, papier-mâché statues representing the various Stations of the Cross are brought to Montalto in a procession.
In the village of Molini di Triora, Holy Thursday is celebrated following afternoon Mass with a procession and a “Visit to the Tombs” ritual that takes place at the various churches and chapels of the village. The day ends at the tables with a traditional dinner of fried breaded vegetables. At the foot of a steep spur overlooking Triora, Good Friday is marked by the “Descent from the Cross” ritual and a procession through the streets of the village. The festivities end on Easter Sunday when villagers gather at a 19th century statue of the Risen Christ in the parish church.
On Easter Sunday, the Ligurian village of Badalucco organizes a game known as “Scotezzo.” Challengers armed with eggs battle to see who can keep their ‘weapon’ intact until the end of the fight. The competition is a beloved tradition that marks the end of the solemn period and celebrates the joyous Resurrection of Christ.