Cocullo is known for his singular patron saint’s holiday, named Festa dei Serpari, in which the patron saint’s statue (Domenico di Sora) is transported in procession covered with lot of snakes (mainly four-lined, aesculapian, grass and green whip snakes). The reptiles themselves are transported in procession by local serpari, a sort of “snake breeders“, and released in the surrounding woods at the end of the holiday. The festival, set every first May since 2012 (in the past it took place every first Thursday in May), is a receptive event for thousands of Italian and foreign visitors. In 2009 it was cancelled due to some structural damages occurred into the village after the L’Aquila earthquake. This tradition, present also in coat of arms symbolism, substituted the ancient Roman mythologic ritual of Angitia, a snake goddess worshipped by the Marsi.
A statue of Saint Domenico surrounded by snakes is held up by worshippers during an annual procession dedicated to the saint, in the streets of Cocullo, in the Abruzzo region, on May 1, 2012. (Photo by Tiziana Fab/AFP Photo)
The festival is a big tourist attraction.