A hymn to abundance, conviviality, a food festival
Panarda? What is that? You have to come to Abruzzo to find out, because it is a ritual exclusive to this region. Basically it is a gargantuan banquet, with at least 50 dishes, involving the entire community who get together to enjoy the best of Abruzzo cuisine.
This hymn to abundance is repeated in several Abruzzo towns at different times of the year, but Villavallelonga, in the heart of the National Park, conserves all the true ancient features, a combination of sacredness and magic. Legend holds that a woman from the Serafini family was returning home from the fountain, and saw a wolf holding her baby daughter in its jaws. She prayed to Saint Anthony and the wolf let the child go. In thanks, the woman promised the saint a fire feast, i.e. the panarda, a vow that she passed onto her family and which has been handed down over the generations. There is in fact a document dated 1657 claiming that a certain Pietro Paolo Serafini used to distribute bean soup in honour of the vow made to Saint Anthony by his ancestors.
Nowadays there are around twenty “obligated” families, and every 16th January they prepare the banquet, which begins after a recital of the rosary, the litanies and oration to Saint Anthony, and which continues throughout the night beneath the gaze of Saint Anthony’s statue that stands majestic in the hall.