Every year the tiny town of Carpino throws a party for anyone who’s interested during the first week of August. It’s called the Carpino Folk Festival, and perhaps unsurprisingly, it focuses on folk music.
But depending on where you’re from, folk music can mean different things. In England, it frequently means restrained dancing around a Maypole during broad daylight once a year. In Carpino, it means dancing until dawn with a punchy, near frenetic ensemble of accordions, drums, guitars and most of all vocals.
In 21st century terms, Carpino is not remote. It sits within a two hour drive, along smooth tarmac and winding roads, of the busy international airport Bari. It welcomes thousands of people to its white-washed piazzas and narrow cobbled lanes each summer for an explosion of song. And it overlooks the twinkling Lake Varano which spills on down through the olive groves to the popular beach resorts of the Gargano National Park.
Yet when it comes to foreign visitors, remote does appear to be the word.
You won’t find throngs of art history students bent over sketchpads, reciting dates and lines and the pedigrees of powerful Italian families. You won’t find crowds of Americans searching for roots or Europeans with insufficient sunscreen.
In fact, there’s a completely different pilgrimage come August in Carpino.
This village of 5000 welcomes back its travelling sons and daughters, those who left to find work. What began as a family sing-song and long stories told over deep red bottles of wine has evolved into the region’s biggest folk festival, attracting crowds from all around. The multi-generation spirit remains, though, as grandmas and grandpas (nonnas and nonnis) take to the stage belting out haunting melodies and giving accordions a good work out as darkness falls.
Abi King – Inside The Travel Lab