Easter in the Val di Noto

Pasqua_Cavalcata di San Giuseppe a Scicli

If you are interested in spending a special Easter in the Val di Noto area, which is famous for its beauty and culture. Here are some ideas on what to do at Easter in this fascinating region of Sicily.
Easter is an important holiday in Italy, and in the Val di Noto you can participate in the traditional processions and religious ceremonies that take place in towns and villages. It is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and attend special events.
In the province of Ragusa, spring festivals are deeply linked to popular faith. Centuries-old traditions rich in folklore loudly draw Sicilians and tourists who year after year never miss the appointment. Some of these traditions are part of the Sicily Region’s Register of Intangible Heritage .

St. Joseph's Cavalcade_The Militias
Photo credit: The Militia Group. Scicli.

St. Joseph’s Ride

St. Joseph, groom of Mary has been celebrated on March 19 in the Iblei since the Middle Ages as a rite of passage between winter and spring, with the purpose of propitiating the harvest and better welcoming the arrival of the new season.
This festivity is celebrated in Scicli with a parade of horses and horsemen dressed specially for the occasion, referred to by Elio Vittorini as a horse flower parade.
The clothing of the animals is made by characteristic trappings composed of flowers of violacea and lilies, carefully arranged to form images of sacred representations. These works, patiently created by veritable companies of trappers, are the subject of an annual competition to sanction the most beautiful work. The riders, costumed for the parade, wear the typical dress of the peasant tradition: black velvet vest and pants, white shirt and tall black boots, a red kerchief around their necks, a colorful sash around their waists, while on their heads they wear the “burritta,” the traditional hat. The different companies, with their artifacts, will walk through the streets of the town in procession, where pagghiara (of bonfires) and ciaccari (bundles of ampelodesmus) were traditionally lit. Duarante the festival also features re-enactments of Joseph and Mary’s flight to Egypt, as well as the Feast of St. Joseph.

Holy Week

The days leading up to Easter focus on Mary’s grief, Jesus’ death and his ordeal, and begin right from Palm Sunday.
The entire province of Ragusa, celebrates these holidays with long processions followed by local marching bands, with a great variety in the repertoire of music. Important are Maundy Thursday and Good Friday in Ispica, in which Christ at the Column and Christ at the Cross are celebrated, respectively. But not only that, Good Friday in Ragusa Ibla and Scicli are also very much felt and experienced by the population.


The long-awaited day of Christ’s Resurrection is celebrated with the same intensity and importance as the days preceding it.
The “Paci” celebrated in Comiso, the “Vasa-vasa” Madonna in Modica, celebrated on Easter Sunday and the following Tuesday, all the way to the Sciclian Easter with the “Celebration of the Living Man.” The latter, an extraordinary and hectic event held in Scicli during Holy Week, is known for its engaging atmosphere and dramatic portrayal of the Passion of Christ. During the event, the “Joy,” as the statue of Christ is affectionately called by Sciclitanians, is carried on the shoulders of the “ Bearers of Joy ” in an eventful procession followed by the entire local community.
He fell in love with this folkloric tradition after a short stay during the Easter season, Vinicio Capossela dedicated a song to this event, recorded with the Scicli band in a church in the town, L’Uomo Vivo (hymn to joy):

The procession of the Risen Christ in Scicli. Man Alive.

“If the eternal Father had forsaken him.
Now the villagers if they accompanied him
What a great celebration to be able to hug him
What a great party to take him to eat.”

It has rays on its back radiating jo-jo-ia
Fingers outstretched indicate joy-joy.
Hands explode with joy-joy.
He throws himself into everyone’s arms for the joy-joy.”

Between the Church of Santa Maria La Nova and the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the procession has a totally irregular course, followed by a large festive crowd. The statue of the risen Christ, “u Gioia” is carried to the rhythm of music under a shower of flowers thrown from balconies and amid fireworks from St. Matthew’s Hill.
Whatever you choose to do this holiday season, be sure to enjoy the beauty and culture of the beautiful Hyblaean region.
Happy Easter!