The “Varvuole” are sea witches, who invariably arrive in Grado every 5 January at sunset. They appear through the sea fog on board the “batele”, the typical boats of the lagoon. Their arrival is very striking: wearing net coats, wire hair, wooden legs, long sharp teeth and fiery eyes, amidst bloodcurdling screams and swirling dances, the witches arrive on land to abduct naughty children and loot the houses. The only antidote to fight them is to rub the metal door and window frames of the house with garlic and, if needs be, sprinkle holy water in the corners of the home.
The story of the Varvuole is a deep-rooted legend, which goes back to the time of the incursions by the Uscocchi, ferocious Dalmatian pirates, who flooded over the Adriatic coasts to escape the Turks. They wore iron mouth guards, wooden bootlegs and dressed in wide skirts like the Turks, clothing which influenced people’s imagination until they transformed into the sea witches named Varvuole.
Not only do they remind us of the pirates’ incursions, the Varvuole also symbolise our eternal fear of the sea, which has always represented the unknown.
Every 5 January at 5.00 p.m. - Porto Mandracchio
Organised by Associazioni Avenal, Civic Band of Grado, Gradovoga, La Signora delle fiabe