To participate in the large number of feasts that take place during the Holy Week in Sicily is not an easy task, but it is certainly a touching experience. Every town, village and country-side becomes the stage of solemn ceremonies, all of these characterised by the slow steps of processions, by the silence or the funerary or joyful notes of the bands. Every situation show his own particularity of remarkable interest. The people religious participation is the expression of an ancient ritualism which represents the heritage of the Spanish colonization and of Jesuits' great power.
Unique in Italy, a grotesque Dance of the Devils (Il Ballo dei Diavoli) is a must-see and it takes place on Easter in this medieval town, a 2-hour drive south of Palermo, deep in the Sicilian interior.
The cosmic struggle between good and evil rages in the remote village of Prizzi, in the picturesque heart of Sicily, spilling out into the streets every Easter. The Dance of the Devils is performed by villagers wearing large and terrifying iron masks. The men of the town dress up in colourful costumes with tied-on tails, hide their faces with red masks and stick out long leather tongues, blaring on trumpets and jangling chains from the early morning, with the sole purpose of disturbing all religious activity. The locals' behaviour represents the saturnalia of evil forces who are indulging in bad behaviour after Christ's crucifixion. Death and the devils rampage through the village to collect their dues: the souls of the passers-by. Having attempted in vain to prevent the meeting of the resurrected Christ and the Virgin Mary, however, the devils are defeated in the afternoon, and order is restored.
When: 16 - 23 Mar 2008 (annual)
Getting there : Prizzi is 78 kilometres from Palermo. Buses run from Palermo's Central Station, though not on Sundays.By Car: take the fast route to Agrigento, turning off at Lercara, then follow the signs.