Celebrating Halloween in Italy with costumes and trick-or-treating is becoming more popular each year. They have imported the American “Halloween” through television, pop culture and films only recently. Italian children don’t shout “trick or treat?” they shout “dolcetto o scherzetto?” after knocking on neighbors doors dressed as little witches and goblins. This “new” event precedes the traditional Italian Holidays of All Saints Day (Ognissanti) and All Souls Day, November 1st and 2nd respectively. Italians honor deceased family members on these annual holidays by visiting their graves, placing flowers and offering prayers.
In a town known more for its Perugina Baci chocolate treat and educational institutions, Perugia’s Fiera dei Morti has been in progress since medieval times. Written evidence of its existence dates back to the year 1260 when it was called the “All Saints Fair”; however, it’s been called the “Fair of the Dead” since the 1700’s. It is considered one of the most important fairs in the area and was started to exchange agricultural livestock and products before winter arrived but has developed into over 500 vendors selling local crafts and sweets. You can find everything from housewares to clothes to spices in stands found in the Pian di Massiano, Piazza del Bacio and the historical center.
The festival Runs November 1st – November 5th. If you are in the area and recovered from your chocolate hangover acquired at last week’s Eurochocolate festival make sure to try local specialties “Beans of the Dead”, Torta al Testo (traditional bread of Perugia) and the tibia shaped cookies known as stinchetti made especially for I Morti.