Amid the chaos – the sawing of the huge tree on the ground, the hoards of people in white, the passerbys with their jugs of communal wine and baskets of fresh bread for the taking – a man’s voice rang out. It was aching, full of passion. Even without speaking Italian I knew that it was a love song, a song for one that was no longer by his side.
I was in the countryside of Basilicata, near Accettura, where the famous Festival of the Marriage of the Trees takes place every summer. Dating back centuries, this festival celebrates the area’s pagan roots. The festival itself is a sight to behold; everyone was in good spirits, and most were drunk well before lunch. What captivated me most, however, was the music that seemed to echo through the forest from all sides, these songs full of such sorrow and heartache.