One aspect of the religious festivals that characterize the South of Italy is given by the constant presence of the lights . Then, there are the fireworks and musical bands that, with stalls and rides (amusement park) , constitute the irreplaceable elements of the feast.
There is also a procession of the Saint, accompanied by a religious complex program concerning to the liturgical celebration of the feast, and that at the base of its also civil motivation; but they are elements , the latter, which tend not to be considered primary by many , and there are many , consider the festival as a tourist event to live in the company, after swimming in the sea during a holiday period.
Undoubtedly, the most significant element of the festival, under the visual aspect, is that one of the illuminations : arches, harmonic crates , espaliers , gables , galleries, form a such harmonious and well articulated jumble, in terms of decoration, as to leave, whenever, amazed even the most demanding and insatiable audience. The reasons for so much good fortune are various.
First of all, the light and the colors, the result of technical, artistic and tasteful skills of “paratori”; then the architecture that, on the scenographic and perspective plan, solve problems similar to those facing the theatrical stagehands, having to conform to the same rules of the job setup. Finally, the lightness and the stability of the materials which resist, with aplomb, to rain, wind and sudden storms, sometimes putting to the severe test the skill and expertise of the operators.
There is also a more hidden but fundamental reason for the existence of the festival: the tradition and its vitality that in the South are the decisive elements to maintaining the cultural historical identity of territory.
From a strictly technical point of view, the lights, as the show in the dark consisting of a set of bright figurative elements installed for the decoration of the city during special festivities, born around the 30s of this century and develop in parallel with the strengthening of the electricity grid of public lighting in Italy.
But the luminous element, as component of the whole of decoration, existed even before the advent of electricity.
From the sixteenth century until the end of the 800, Italy knew a flowering of festivals characterized by parazioni (dialect word used to designate the illuminations) that develop mainly in Rome and in Naples, where they will assume an importance so substantial as to involve the greatest artists of the time. Bernini, Grimaldi, Pietro da Cortona, Rinaldi, Fanzago, Fontana and before even the same Michelangelo, will provide drawings, will realize sketches, will be the real directors of festivals, supported, in the design, by writers and high- level intellectuals like Sforza Pallavicino, Emanuele Tesauro or religious talented as the father Andrea Pozzo.
In short, the feast has an origin not at all educated and involves all layers of the population: from religious authorities to civilian ones, from nobles to peasants, from rich to poor.
Everything becomes an occasion to celebrate. For example, this is also an opportunity for the people to soothe the backbreaking toil of work everyday, made almost always at the service of some noble feudal lord or landowner. For the interiors, the churches will be privileged; for the exteriors, will be involved the squares, the facades of the convent, of the palaces and churches, the bell towers. The whole city is transformed, in the name of wonder.
Scorrano also participates considerably and relevant to this cultural renewal movement. So, it is built, in front of the old castle, the new feudal residence of Frisari, when they receive the title of Scorrano’s dukes; the middle-class residences, exhausted the available space within the walls, expand outside the door, ideally dilating the ellipse of the walls to the west, the most beautiful and significant area of the country. And right here, in fact, is erected the spire in honor of the Protectress Santa Domenica facing the city, to be able to visually embrace all the homes of his devotees.
With the crisis of traditional culture, one that will be defined disparagingly of the old regime, then they are less the cultural and political conditions that had created the assumptions for the emergence of the baroque festival and all its manifestations.
The society becomes more secular, passing through a fierce anti-clericalism that of the new culture, is the most widely perceived element in the South. Among the social strata of the ruling class and the people you dig a deep groove, made unassailable by the phenomenon of banditry before and the lack of reforms then. So, It will begin the decline of an art form that still worsen with the advent of Italian Unification. The great scenography, the shows of fireworks performed during the day on special musical scores, large processions with great fanfare with the involvement and participation of the whole city, will be only an increasingly distant memory, until the total memory clearing.
But the artistic revival of this wonderful tradition will take place in the South with the elaboration of a real new art form: the lights, whose today’s fortune consists perhaps, in deceiving Salento clients and southern that, even when you decorate a road or a modern square, psychologically it presupposes a Forma Urbis, even when there is not. And for a few days, there is an illusion that the new city is an extension of the old one. Then, you wait for the next feast of the year, when a new decoration will help even to dream.