Snakes are one of those few animals which most people are afraid of. By the time it bites you, consider yourself dead even if you’re still alive. It may sound weird, but you’ll consider the people of Abruzzo, Italy, the bravest in the world after hearing this story.

Before the actual festival held every first of May, the snake catchers or charmers known as “separi” begins the hunting as early as mid-March. As the Vatican is against the snake festival, the snake catchers only catch four types of local harmless snakes namely Aesculapian snake, Four-lined snake, Grass snake and the Dark green snake which are all included in the family of non-venomous snakes. Once caught, the fangs of the snakes are then removed by the catchers.

Cocullo's snake festivalA tatty hill-village west of Sulmona, Cocullo is neglected by outsiders for 364 days of the…

Posted by Nigredo on Sunday, May 1, 2016

Festa dei Serpari di Cocullo, the Snake festival is celebrated in honor of San Domenico, a Benedictine monk renowned as a Saint today because of his ability to heal and protect the residents against catastrophes, illnesses, rabies, venom, and other poisonous animals as well as from toothache. He had also made miracles through making a newly planted fava beans grow, multiplying grains for flour and even speaking to a wolf to bring an abducted infant to the mother.

We are going to the Holy Snake Festival of San Domenico in Cocullo, Abruzzo next week- how about you???!!!

Posted by Italy Hotline Custom & Gourmet Tours on Monday, April 23, 2012

Traditional "Snake Festival" of San Domenico in #Cocullo #Abruzzo. Yesterday more than 20.000 visitors attended the event. Here a beautiful slideshow

Posted by Italia Sweet Italia – Experience Abruzzo on Friday, May 2, 2014

With the kind miracles he brought to the village, he gained worshipers although the village is only composed of almost 300 villagers. The festival begins with a mass in the town’s small church where residents would ring a tiny bell using their own teeth; a practice which is believed to protect the residents against toothache.

Snakes in Cocullo have been loved and respected for centuries. Each spring the snake hunters (serpari) catch the snakes…

Posted by Hidden Italy Tours on Monday, May 1, 2017

Along with the procession of Saint Domenico, he is taken out from the church, placed with non-venomous snakes and carried in order to perform the procession of the wooden statue of the saint. Other than that, parade of different groups wearing traditional costumes confidently carrying a bunch of snakes on their neck is sort of the main highlight.

Posted by News Mania Newspaper on Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Although the event poses a little danger, it doesn’t stop the number of population as the hundreds of villagers ascended to 20,000 (in 2017) including the worshipers from Italy, foreign visitors and some of the UNESCO Commission members who came to evaluate the event in considering it to be among the UNESCO intangible heritage.

Posted by Pope&Sons on Thursday, May 5, 2016

With the figures, one could only tell how a festival dubbed as ‘bizarre’ and ‘harmful’ can inspire people to face their fears. Will you dare to face yours too?

Photo credit: Marco Di Lauro |