Saturday, May 10, 2014

Fasano (Puglia) A Beautiful Town to Visit by Philip S. Kampe

   Our wonderful tour guide, Margherita Latorre, Office of Tourism, Citta di Fasano

There are some towns in the world that make time stand still. One of those alluring towns is Fasono, Puglia, located in the ‘heel of Italy’. It is a diamond in the rough, a town of archways, a maze of narrow lanes, churches, quaint piazzas and marble stairways.

On a recent visit to this historical village of forty thousand, memories of the old world unfolded before my eyes.

My guide was Margherita Latorre, a knowledgeable tourism official from the Citta Di Fasano. Ms. Latorre explained that the towns ancient  roots go back to Greco-Roman times, first recorded in 38 BC, by Horace.

It wasn’t until 1088 that the town was truly settled. For many years, the towns possession changed hands. For example, in the 14th century Fasano was inhabited  by the Knights of Malta. It wasn’t until 1678 that the town of Fasano defeated the Turks. Possession again changed hands, this time to the residents of Fasano.

The victory is attributed to the intervention of Madonna, who appeared to guide the resistance to victory. The victory over the Turks is still celebrated each year with a week long festival, La Scimiciata. The colorful festival includes medieval flag throwing competitions, fireworks, colorful period costumes worn by residents, concerts and food concessions.
                                               The traditional Quarantana

Fasano is also famous for the Le Quarantane Festival, which begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts seven weeks, concluding on Easter Sunday. The town celebrates the ancient tradition of the Quarantana, which is literally a life-size puppet of an old lady, that represents the Widow of Carnival. 

The Quarantana is dressed in black colored rags and her head is covered with a black handkerchief, signifying mourning. Seven puppets are hung above the streets of Fasano for forty days before Lent to watch over the population that repents during this religious period.
Traditionally dressed women making fried dough for the beginning of Le Quarantane

     The decorations of the Quarantana are symbolic. One of the most important symbols on the puppet are seven chicken feathers.  The chicken feathers  represent the seven weeks of Lent. As the weeks go by, the feathers are removed, so that the towns residents can keep count of the weeks left before Easter.

The Quarantana wears a necklace made of seven cloves of garlic and seven taralli. The taralli are a symbol of the poverty at the table, while the seven cloves of garlic ward off evil and temptations.

On holy Saturday night before the Resurrection, the seven Quarantana are burned as a symbol of purification and the victory of life over death and the coming of spring over winter.

Our guide, Margherita Latorre, showed us an example of a traditional house in Fasano that dates back to the end of the16th century. The house was sub-divided into useful rooms and areas that were communal, yet independent. Privacy and hygiene dominated during that period in Fasano’s history.

My favorite part of town is the Piazza Ciaia, a large piazza surrounded by beautiful buildings and cobblestone streets.
It is considered the hub of Fasano, a town worth visiting.

Fasano offers the tourist the best of both worlds, a beautiful, ancient city, blessed with some of the countries finest fruit and vegetables, olive groves, an olive oil museum and architecture that rivals the worlds finest cities. And on top of that, Fasano is only a short drive to the sea.
Isn’t it time for you to visit Fasano?


        A self-serve wine and olive oil pump near Piazza Ciaia in Fasano

For more information about the ‘Citta Di Fasano’, contact my favorite tour guide, Margherita Latorre at:  or visit:

Philip S. Kampe


Mary T. said...

What an exciting article. I would love to go to Puglia and visit Fasano. It sounds like a gem of a city.

Jamie H. said...

You are a great travel writer, as well as a wine critic.

Sheila E. said...

This sounds like a wonderful city, well off the beaten track.

Judy L. said...

I want to visit Fasano, a town I had never heard of..

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