A Guide To Tarantella in Southern Italy
Limoncello, cliff hugging towns and draping bougainvillea all embody southern Italy for many. And while I am never one to turn down a glass of limoncello or a chance to explore the streets of Positano, tarantella remains an integral part of southern Italy for me. I studied this Neapolitan song and dance tradition on my first stint studying abroad in Sorrento. What I would find through observing countless performances was a practice that should be very much a part of a traveler’s southern Italian vacation.
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The dance tarantella supposedly began in the town of Taranto in the mid 14th century. However many believe the dance first sprung up in the 1700s. Regardless, legend has it the tarantella began as a way to ward off spider bites, specifically tarantula nibbles. Townspeople believed that if they danced, played music and sang around a person bitten by a spider, they would be cured from the poison. The afflicted person was also tasked with singing and dancing to rid himself or herself of the poison.
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Many classic tarantella shows in Italy involve certain staples in the music department. If you attend a tarantella show in southern Italy, you can expect to be singing along to classic Italian folk songs such as Torna a Sorrento, O Sole Mio and Funiculí Funiculá. Tarantella shows usually incorporated a medley of the most famous Neapolitan songs of the ages. The music and words tell of the culture and traditions of the land and people in this part of Italy.
Tarantella is much more than just a song and dance performance. The stories of tarantella are what keep many tales alive in southern Italy. Those who attend a show will go through the ages in southern Italy, beginning in 1558. The performance aspect revolves around the most important occurrences in Sorrento and the Kingdom of Naples throughout the last 500 years.
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Many travelers in southern Italy, in search of the Amalfi Coast, base themselves out of Naples or Sorrento. If you select Sorrento for your holiday rental destination, there are several tarantella shows you can catch in town including Favnonoteeclvb Tarantella Show and Sorrento Musical in the Tasso Theater. Sorrento Musical takes on a more traditional approach to the tarantella. The show traces two centuries of Neapolitan dance, customs and music, honing in on the daily life of southern people throughout four scenes. Guests will go from the fisherman’s story down at Marina Grande to the square were southern life transpired.
The Favnonotteclvb Tarantella Show goes through many of the historical events in the area from the Saracen Landing on June 13, 1558 to the scars of World War II. Both tarantella shows utilize the same songs and costumes but they are two very different tarantella interpretations. If you are traveling to southern Italy in the near future, be sure to schedule a tarantella show into your itinerary. Not only will you be exposed to song and dance from 500 years in this corner of the world, but you will also gain a valuable history lesson all with the banging of the tambourine and the blast of fireworks.
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