Three Italian Dances and Their (Bizarre) Histories

Three Italian Dances and Their (Bizarre) Histories

As we are reaching the peak of summer, some of us are still planning their vacation to the wonderful land of Italy. Best known for its wonderful landscapes, delicious olive oils, wines, deserts and pastas, Italy has an incredible history and a culture of traditions that are rooted in beliefs worth debating. Some traditions are often overlooked which is why it is difficult to find historical dances in big cities such as Rome, Milan, or even Venice; but it is quite common in smaller communities in southern part of the country. As you may know, true immersion comes in smaller communities with cultural secrets & traditions being well-preserved in smaller towns such as Regio, for example. We would like to take you back in time to these forgotten dances that fueled today's culture. Enjoy!

Young Italian Woman Dancing

1. Tarantella

Tarantella is a type of dance typical of the Southern regions of the country. It comes from the word "tarantula," yes, the large spider that all of us are really afraid of! The dance was used to recreate the movements of a person who had been bit by the spider. People belived that you could get rid of the venom by dancing it off. It would look like something like this:

Tarantella - Dance

2. Pizzica

Pizzica is a dance which originated in Apulia. It's direct translation today is "itch, sting, bite" As "Tarantella", this is dance is also linked to a "tarantula". This time, this dance was a tool for the population to help a person who had been bitten. When a person had been bitten by a spider, there would be a shock that only this dance was supposed to help them get out of. This dance inspired freedom and liberation for all and it looked like this: 

Pizzica Dance in the medieval town of Morro D'Alba - Marche region Italy

3. Saltarello

The Saltarello is a form of "Tarantella" dance that can be found in regions such as Abruzzo, lazio, and Marche. This is a couples dance that makes it one of oldest dances in Italy. The dance is named after the verbe 'saltare' ("to jump") because it is composed of a lot of jumping around which inspired a French dance (Le pas de Brabant) and a Spanish dance (Alta Danza). It looked something like this: 

Saltarello, a popular Renaissance dance, is performed by professional dancers. 

We hope you enjoyed reading Three Italian Dances and Their (Bizarre) Histories. These magical Italian dances, which were originally created in aims of healing wounded people, are yet another reason why you should visit Italy and take part in the cultural history of this wonderful country. Have other Italian dances you want to add to the list? Don't forget to add it in the comments' section below. Looking for more Italian language and culture? Check out our Italian Group Classes & Private Lessons at JP Linguistics taught by native instructors. Grazie mille!