San Marzano di San Giuseppe, with a population of about 9.000 inhabitants, is an agricultural center laying in the province of Taranto, rich in vineyards and olive groves. In the XVI century many Albanians fled from the Turks’ attacks and found refuge in this hamlet, importing habits, costumes and orthodox rituals of their homeland. Some of these traditions have survived to the present day, representing the distinguishing feature of the local community.
The Feast of Saint Joseph
San Marzano di San Giuseppe celebrates Saint Joseph, its patron saint, on March 18th and 19th. The worship of Saint Joseph dates back to the XVII century, when Albanian war refugees of the Greek Orthodox rite settled in the town. The highlight of the celebrations is the traditional lighting of the St. Joseph bonfire. According to custom, people of all ages, carrying faggots and logs, walk in procession up to the place where the bonfire will be prepared and lit. Carts loaded with faggots, bearing on the top the picture of the Saint and pulled by horses in gala trappings, precede them.