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The (Bagpipes) “La Zampogna” Festival in Manarola di Formia lights up the winter along the Lazio coast with one of the most important exhibitions in Italy in the panorama of Italian popular music, culture and world music.

The music of the bagpipes traditionally fills the Christmas streets of Rome and almost all the major centres of Lazio. Players dressed as shepherds stroll and spread music that is part of the unique lifestyle of this area. After Christmas, all these musicians meet for a special ‘good taste’ festa in Formia.

The event has distant roots and was first presented in 1995. It is divided into several days in January in Maranola di Formia. Maranola is a hilly village near the town of Formia that was formed from the union of this village with that of Castellone along the coast.

An event with concerts, votive songs dedicated to the Virgin and many important artists welcome guests from many Italian regions and from abroad, players of bagpipes, pive and pipes.

Picture by Angelo Viglianti

The ritual begins with a sign of religious devotion and the numerous players go up along the narrow streets of the picturesque village to reach the votive shrine of the Madonna degli Zampognari: a procession that is a “tradition invented”.

The festival hosts an exhibition and market of traditional lute-making that is considered the most interesting event where you can buy musical instruments, traditional objects, and tools of pastoral use related to the world of bagpipes. A unique opportunity to get in direct contact with some lute-makers and makers of musical instruments who are among the most important of the peninsula. It is an event to be pursued.

In the evening in the hamlet of Maranola dinner is held with local products with delicious cicerchie, polenta, mulled wine and the famous coriander sausage of Monte San Biagio. A series of songs and dances accompanied by a degustation of local products as from food and wine tours.

Among the experiences that can be had at the festival is “The world of shepherds” is a section dedicated exclusively to children with lessons and concerts about the pastoral world. You can enter the world of popular music by participating in seminars held by the same players who then crowd the streets of the historic centre of the town.

Take note of the “Bordone Sonoro“, a concert of instruments that produce a ‘drone’: bagpipes, flute, organ, harp, percussion and many others.

During the festival there are also screenings, photographic exhibitions, presentation of books and prizes: “La Zampogna”, “Giovani Musicisti” and the “Premio Speciale Artista”.

The presence of different generations of musicians, violinmakers and fans confirms that this festival has become an awaited moment and a festival capable of attracting thousands of people. Informality and spontaneity dominate the festival.

Picture by Maria Zanardi

In the last years we mention the votive chants by Gianluca Zammarelli and Lavinia Mancusi, votive songs by the Portuguese Sara Vidal and the Women of Giulianello, Sardinian sacred songs with Valeria Pilia, and Sicilian songs with Eleonora Bordonaro.

Among the leaders of the popular scene are the Folk Music in Museums, the Ettore Castagna & Giuseppe Ranieri duo, Paolo Rocca & Fiore Benigni, Enerbia, Zampogneria Trio, Popular Roots, the Belgian Jean-Pierre Van Hees, the Galician Susana Seivane, the Patrios, Gaita-De-Foles, Unavantaluna, the young and pyrotechnical folk musician Giovanna Marini, Zampognari from the Monti Aurunci, the Monti Ausoni, Zampognari from Maranola, Zampognorchestra, the Siberian Vladiswar Nadishana, Silvio Forte and Giuliano De Meo, the Ensemble Lapsus Calami, the Popular Choir of the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome directed by Annarita Colaianni, the bell art of Don Francesco Ferro, Nando Citarella, Gianni Dell’Aversana, Alessandro Mazziotti, Orlando D’Achille, Luigina Parisi.

The festival takes place in different parts of Maranola di Formia and on other dates are held in the villages of Campodimele and Itri.