Befana bonfire in Noale: an ancient fascinating ritual

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Last Updated on November 29, 2023 by Laura Teso

If you are frequent readers of My Corner of Italy, you already know the Befana tradition. This year Matteo and I decided to see the Befana bonfire in Noale, there called Pirola Parola (as in other towns in the province of Venice). I don’t know what that means exactly. In Italian it sounds something like “pyre word“.

Pirola Parola Noale

Every year on January 6th in Noale you can attend a fascinating ceremony with about 100 people dressed in historic costumes: traditional songs, propitiatory rhymes, games for kids, food kiosks and ancient artisan works reenactments.

The highlight is the bonfire. The pile they burn represents the old year, while the flames represent hope. The direction of the smoke is an omen for the new year. According to tradition, if the sparks and the smoke go towards the west the harvest will be poor. While if they go towards east, it will be copious.

It was bitter cold when we arrived in Noale. We wandered and snoop around, taking pictures to the people and to the quaint corners of the town.

Pasticceria Zizzola

It was too cold to wait outside until 5.30 pm and see the highlight, the bonfire on the river bank. So we decided to have merenda at a local pastry shop, recently renovated, called Zizzola. I loved it. I published a picture on Instagram and I received so many requests of information about it, that I decided I will write a separate post asap.

Bonfire time!

It was beautiful, mostly because the day was clear. So we could enjoy a marvelous sunset during the bonfire.

The heat of the fire reached us while we were watching along the river bank, with the picturesque sight of the castle ruins.

The final verdict of the expert fire smoke teller was vague: this year will be neither bad nor good. OK, it could have been worse, but I honestly hoped for a better prevision!

Anyway, I really enjoyed this experience. Noale always males things right. I loved the Palio and I loved the Pirola Parola. I’d suggest you to go next year to see the Befana bonfire in Noale, if you have the chance. It is part of that primeval and almost lost rituals of our history that are really worth preserving.

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