Dancing the Liscio in the Piazza

September 20, 2012 / Local Interest
San Terenziano, Umbria

The annual festa in San Terenziano was in full swing, July 27th to August 5th. Reinvigorated ten years ago by the younger generation of the town, determined to preserve the local traditions, the ten-day party has grown into one of the best festivals in the region. Entire families come for dinner in the piazza, enjoying local specialties like strangozzi con funghi porcini at picnic tables set up beneath the trees. Children as young as seven help to serve the steaming plates while the intoxicating aroma of grilled meats fills the air.

At nine, the musicians begin to set up on a stage erected in front of the medieval borgo; the players are young, but the music is traditional.

The dancers range from 8 to 80; it’s as if they are born knowing how to execute the liscio (from ballo liscio, i.e. “smooth dance”), accompanied by a crooner (or croon-ess) and a brace of accordions. There is a disco in the garden behind the ducal palace, but that doesn’t heat up until later, after the older crowd has gone home to bed.

The dark streets are lit by neon hearts (this year’s theme is love) and filled with baby strollers, long legged teenagers, and elderly ladies and gentlemen strolling under the stars. Gelati in hand, they sway to the music, watching spruced up neighbors move around the dance floor, wheat harvest forgotten for the evening. Scenes like this had to have been inspiration for Cinema Paradiso, so magical is summer here in Umbria.

Sharri Whiting

by Sharri Whiting

Sharri writes about food, wine and international travel from Umbria, where she and her husband grow olives. In addition to articles, she writes a blog,  UmbriaBella. Her app, Olive Oil IQ is a portable encyclopedia for foodies and culinary travelers (iTunes & Android). Follow her on Twitter: @umbriabella and @oliveoiliq. Facebook: www.facebook.com/UmbriaBella, and www.facebook.com/oliveoiliq

7 Responses to “Dancing the Liscio in the Piazza”

  1. Its letters like these that exemplify what being an Italian is. Living in the USA and trying to have this type of event would be virtually impossible. Here neighbors complain about neighbors I can’t image the whole town partying throughout the night. Love the article, love the spirit of the people definitely the sweet life.

  2. I’ve been to that region, but not to this particular village and, unfortunately, didn’t get to dance into the night! Sounds like such a wonderful time…

  3. Sounds wonderful? And it’s great that it’s the younger generation that has revitalized this tradition.

  4. Rosemary

    This brings me back to our time in Italy. I loved that all the generations participated in the festivals – I even had an opportunity to dance at one with an older gentleman (I hope he forgave me for stepping all over his feet!)

  5. Pauline Dyson

    These fiestas are very common in Italy in small communities. My cousin’s grandson, a recent college graduate has led a committee of young folks to recreate a folklorico in the borgo of my ancestral.village in Molise. Like the one described here, traditional local foods are prepared by the ladies of the village, and tarantellas danced along with ballroom dancing. VIllagers who long ago emigrated return to their native village and join in the celebration. Che Bella Memoria


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