The Pizzica dance, today an internationally renowned attraction, actually has very archaic origins. It is believed that it was a ritualistic dance brought to Puglia by ancient Greeks in honor of the god euphoria and wine, Dionysus.
Over time, Pizzica has evolved and has lost its connection with the Dionysian ritual, becoming associated with the bite of the Tarantula spider.In a mostly agricultural and peasant region like Puglia, it was quite common to fall into spider bites during the field work. But the bite of one of these spiders, the Tarantula, it had unexpected effects. In fact, it was commonly thought to be highly poisonous and lead to a hysterical condition. Legend has it that traditional remedies could do nothing for the bite victim, who fell into a kind of trance. All that the victim could do was jump into a hysterical dance to the rhythm of the traditional Salento tambourine.
After a period when this dance, and the ritual associated with it, have been abandoned as a sign of ignorance and superstition, the Pizzica has been rediscovered in recent years and have gained more and more popularity. So much so that more and more musicians have resumed and revisited this kind of music in the wake of tradition.
You can assist to this lively dance in many concerts and popular festivals throughout the Apulian summer but the event that attracts more attention is definitely La Notte Della Taranta, celebrated every August in Melpignano, a town in the heart of Salento. In this mega concert, that in 2018 involved 400.000 people, took part not only Apulian musicians, but also folk and popular bands from all over the world.
The most choreographic and spectacular variant of the Pizzica you can assist to is the Pizzica-Pizzica, a partner dance, which triggers a sparkling party. Whether the dance takes place in a fake courtship scenario or in a more playful mood, the woman holds a handkerchief as an invitation to the dance for her partner. The effect is spectacular not only for the movement of the handkerchief but also for the skirts and scarves.