Have you ever been at the top of a mountain? Take it a step further, have you ever had a party at the top of the mountain? Well, how about a party celebrating the yearly occasion of walking the farm animals down the mountain to warmer temperatures and greener pastures? Well that’s exactly what happens in many regions of the Alps, specifically in South Tirol, Italy.
The Festival of St. Bartholomew celebrates the life of Bartholomew the Apostle and takes place in late August. In many parts of the Alps locals take advantage of this feast in the later summer as an occasion to have a few beverages and bring their communities together. In Ritten Renon, Italy, the custom is to take the gondola to the top of the ski hill and slow start the trek downward.
During the journey festival goers encounter herds of sheep, cows, horses and make-shift bars that would normally be reserved for skiers in the winter season. The downhill hike takes a 3-5 hours depending on how much time is spent taking part in the festivities.
The traditional garb for the region is lederhosen for men and dirndls for women. As you make your way down the hill you will notice that you are never far from the roots of local culture. The air is filled with sounds of shockwaves sent from the cracking of whips. The sound itself is enough to startle the animals into moving down the hill. Check out this YouTube clip to see an example: http://youtu.be/B8VR9luAO2I
When you finally make it to the bottom of the mountain be sure to check your shoes because you likely lost track of where you were stepping along the way and may have found some *mud*. The bottom of the mountain also greets you with the sounds of accordion music and dancing. With everyone dressed in lederhosen and dirndls you will think you are in the movie ‘Sound of Music”.