One of the most enjoyable Puglia traditions, both to watch and to participate in, is the pizzica. This lively dance originated in the Salento peninsula and then spread through Puglia and Calabria. It is similar to the tarantella and involves dancing with a partner, usually of the opposite sex, although it doesn’t have to be. There is often a scarf involved which can be wiggled suggestively or even wrapped round the other person’s neck. (Not completely, obviously, you do want them to live to see another dance!)
You can see people dancing the pizzica at festas throughout the year. The most famous is held in August in Salento and is called La Notte della Taranta. Both the pizzica and the tarantella are danced at this festival, which is one of the most important traditional cultural events in Europe, and certainly a very big deal indeed for Puglia with a huge turnout.
Although it is now danced to entertain the crowds, the pizzica was originally a way to pass the time and to help budding romances to flourish. There’s a lot of eye flashing and meaningful staring going on. Age is no barrier either, as you will see in the lovely video below from Dream of Italy.