The Bandits of Brindisi Montagna

March 1, 2016 / Events
Brindisi di Montagna, Basilicata

In a huge open-air, natural amphitheatre below the town of Brindisi Montagna, Il Parco Storico La Grancia is a multi-venue historical theme park with areas for education, theatre, music and art. The Borgo is a sort of Lucanian frontier-town where artisans in period costumes demonstrate traditional crafts, and there are several stands and restaurants where you can eat locally-produced delicacies that would have been served during the brigantaggio years, the late 1800s. Music and dance performances are designed to reflect the area’s particular history and culture.

But the main event of this park is La Storia Bandita, a grand production dubbed as a “cinespettacolo“. It is a beautiful blending of impassioned live performance, dramatically-devised video projection, and astounding special effects, utilizing the bare cliff wall opposite and the ruins of the 11th century castle perched above Brindisi Montagna. Seriously, this is one amazing show.

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Interestingly, La Storia Bandita means “the history of the bandits” but could also be translated as “banned history”. It is a clever word play for the period when many Lucani felt marginalized and tyrannized. Tired of invasions and overly dominating landowners that kept them poor, oppressed and disillusioned, the period of the Risorgimento (the unification of Italy) proved to be a flashpoint for many southern peasants who joined together and formed a band of bandits. They became known as briganti.

La Storia Bandita tells a dramatized version of this period, focusing on the charismatic leader of the pack, Carmine Crocco, who was called the General of the Briganti. From events in his childhood and disillusionment with the unification forces, the story shows how and why the briganti took things into their own hands to protect their lands and traditions.

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The production is astounding, with hundreds of participants in an all-volunteer cast and crew. Dance and music reflect the rural Basilicata life at the time. Crocco authored an autobiography and some of his rousing prose is movingly recited by Michele Placido, a well-known actor. But the effects! When the forces invade, the castle is set aflame. Gunfire echoes loudly in the canyon and the flashes illuminate the mountain formations. Images are projected behind the set on the rock. A waterwall shoots up in a stirring finale.

P1050036You don’t have to understand much Italian to follow the show. The performances play it all out before your eyes, unfolding in the peasant village, as well as tents and caves, representing how the briganti had to hide out in the hills. The performance was so rousing that my husband Bryan decided he would dress as Crocco for Carnevale next year. This is a show worth seeing.

Valerie Schneider

by Valerie Fortney- Schneider

Through her company My Bella Basilicata Valerie uses her tourism industry experience to offer travel planning and on-site genealogy research in the Basilicata region. She is a freelance writer with magazine and website articles to her credit, adores cappuccino, and is an enthusiastic cook.

Valerie Fortney-Schneider

5 Responses to “The Bandits of Brindisi Montagna”

  1. Buddy Bess

    It would be very helpful to know what time of year this performance (s) takes place and if one needs tickets? Interesting story

    Reply
  2. Valerie
    Valerie

    Th exact dates for 2016 aren’t published yet. It takes place in August with a few weekend nights in September, but varies some each year. It is a volunteer production. When the dates are published, I’ll post them here. Searching La Storia Bandita 2016 will also bring them up eventually. Reservations aren’t usually necessary but a good idea just to make sure. :)

    Reply

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