There are many orally transmitted tales and legends that still live on in the valleys' most deeply rooted folk traditions and festivals. Some customs of the past have lost importance over time, while others are an integral part of the cultural fabric of the Tarvisio area.


San Nicolò & krampus

On the evening of December 5, at dusk, they show up accompanying St. Nicholas; they pass through the central street of the town armed with lit torches and bundles of rods, pulling a cart on which the saint towers. In Tarvisio in particular, having arrived in the square, the Krampus stop being the servants of St. Nicolo' and go wild, chasing the children and sometimes the adults to whip them, make them kneel down and recite prayers (the rite takes place - with some differences - in the other towns as well, but essentially it remains the same). 

Finally, in some countries, a bonfire is lit and Krampus dance around it. This rite, certainly pagan-inspired, did not in ancient times include the figure of St. Nicholas, introduced in the Middle Ages as a positive moderator of the negative forces embodied precisely by the Krampus (at that time instead of St. Nicholas there was in this capacity the white Krampus).

The ritual is an allegory of the eternal struggle between good and evil.

The Krampus (representation of the devil), companions of the Saint of Mira (St. Nicholas), appear as mysterious sylvan spirits, covered in skins or furs.

They wear monstrous masks, topped with tall horns, red, white or natural colored.

From their toothed mouth hangs a long red tongue, which, with the staff and bundles of wands held by the Krampus, is believed to be a phallic symbol.

They are equipped with cowbells and chains with which they herald their arrival; they also make guttural sounds and move with aggressive attitudes.


pechtra baba

The tradition takes place in Camporosso and Malborghetto on the evening of January 5, before the arrival of the three wise men.  It is considered by local people to be one of the coldest and most mysterious evenings of the year, but also one of the most fascinating.

Around dusk, eight or ten male boys, preteen age, ten to sixteen years old, gather along the road through the village. All are equipped with cowbells. Gathered together, they start running down the street, banging the bells violently. They do not shout or utter words they run and ring. Reaching the far end of the village, where a cross once stood, they return composedly, in silence. Some stop and knock on doors to receive some gifts, but people are very reluctant to open. At one time young people received dried pears, apples, fava beans and peanuts. The chase has a symbolic meaning serves to repel and drive out of the village the Perchta Baba, an evil female spirit (analogous to the Befana). The next day, January 6, the bells used during the chase were taken to the attic or barn and hung around the cows' necks for superstitious purposes.

THE MAY tree

the maia

  • The month of May is the month of the Maja or Maibaum. Like so many others, this is also a tradition that is disappearing in other communities but has remained alive in Camporosso, where the Maja is raised on the eve of Corpus Christi in Malborghetto and Coccau where the tradition is still passionately observed. The maypole (maja), in these areas, is a symbol of fertility; the forces of spring are personified in the tree of life. This tree is precisely called "of May" or "of Pentecost." It is usually provided by 18-year-olds or otherwise conscripted young people. The tree (the trunk of a fir tree stripped of its bark) was once brought to the site by dragging, by the pulling of oxen with characteristic harnesses, today less suggestively by a tractor. Important is the circumnavigation of the village that said plant makes before reaching the point of elevation. It is a kind of procession in order to ideally involve everyone in the ritual and its good wishes.

The ceremony is performed as follows: the tip of a fir tree is grafted onto the top of the trunk and a wreath (Kranz), made from the branches of the same plant, is hung on the trunk; then, the girls of the same age interested in the feast adorn both the top and the wreath. The erection of the albner, given its height, requires skill and strength but also patience using ladders and crossed poles with slow gradualness. Eventually there it stands straight up, superb, becoming a pivot of the community 

Location: Malborghetto-Coccau- Camporosso

Period: May - Vigil Of Corpus Christi


Palm Sunday kicks off Holy Week. This day commemorates Jesus' entry into Jerusalem and the announcement of his passion.
A whole series of liturgical services are concentrated during the Easter season. After the Gloria on Thursday, the bells fall silent and are replaced by the rattles that are played by children in the streets of the village. In Ugovizza, Valbruna, and Malborghetto, the Holy Sepulchre is set up, consisting of wooden wings on which scenes depicting the Crucifixion are painted, a niche in which the monstrance is placed, and the Sepulchre in which Jesus' body is laid. Here the guarding of the tomb is still ensured today by the Volunteer Firemen's Corps of Ugovizza, Valbruna and Malborghetto who keep watch over the Holy Sepulcher throughout the night.
Holy Saturday includes the blessing of Easter foods (ham, kren, hard-boiled eggs, sweet bread, sausages and tongue) and the blessing of the fire.
A large bonfire is lit in the churchyard, with which the Easter candle is lit. This is followed by the blessing of water from the baptismal font. The faithful take home some embers from the blessed fire and the consecrated water. In Malborghetto the embers are delivered to families by altar boys on Sunday morning.
Of note are the Good Friday Via Crucis procession in Malborghetto and the Holy Saturday Resurrection procession in Ugovizza.

In Valcanale, the olive tree has been replaced by the Praitl: the sapling is made for Palm Sunday, it consists of a more or less long stick, a large clump of juniper branches, bettulla, willow with its kittens, among which fruit, colored eggs, seeds, cookies are introduced. This is the Praitel or Palmbush that once blessed was anciently planted in the sown fields for good omen, if an exceptional guest came it was placed on the threshold as a sign of oamage and welcome.

Location: Camporosso-Ugovizza-Valbruna-Malborghetto


The Sciapa/šapa features the young conscripts, who visit houses in the village on the evening of December 27 carrying the "big frost" (šapa).

The šapa consists of a large fir tree branch at the center of which is fixed a red cloth heart decorated with various symbolic objects: the medals that wish rich lumber servants, the thalers and ingots that presage wealth, the chain of love, the key of St. Peter that makes one go to heaven, a second chain that symbolizes the one used to pull the Christmas tree and the horseshoe that brings good luck. The green part of the branch is decorated with white bows wishing births, little bells symbolizing festivity, little birds symbolizing lightheartedness, and Christmas balls wishing as many children as they are; the whole is surrounded by a silver heart-shaped festoon. Tradition calls for conscripts to go from house to house to offer good wishes, while carolers outside sing auspicious songs. Only three members of the group enter the house: the bearer of the frost who explains the meaning of the objects on the frasca, the footman who offers drinks to the family members, and the bearer of the lantern who stops at the entrance. A tip is offered to the group; the money collected will partly be used to make dinner between conscripts and singers, and partly will be donated to the church and the volunteer fire department. The ritual is repeated on New Year's Eve, but on this occasion only the taverns are visited and the waiter and lantern bearer are not expected.

In December 28, the day of the Holy Innocents, it is instead the children who scip-sciap with a "Little Brina" without decorations to parents and adults, wishing them a long life and reciting a nursery rhyme in Slovenian, in which each needle on the branch corresponds to a year of happiness.

In Valbruna, where still today some children on the morning of December 28 practice "Scip sciap" by going around the houses of villagers, Mrs. Irma Keil brought back the nursery rhyme that was recited during her childhood. As you can see, it is partly in Slovene and partly in German: "Šip œap/pr'rit tap/gesund bleiben/lang leben/und Geld geben" Approximately: "Scip sciap/tap to the butt/remain healthy/live long/and give money"

Even in the Italian version, the name "Scip sciap" onomatopoeically recalls the sound of a branch moved by the hand, since the tradition takes place precisely with a branch. This generally consists of a white fir branch, flat and rounded in shape. Until a few years ago the tradition was practiced throughout the valley; at present it is still quite alive in Ugovizza and takes place mainly on the 28th, the day of the Holy Innocents, and in the evening before.

Location: Camporosso-Ugovizza-Valbruna-Malborghetto

Point of arrival

The Tarvisio tourist destination is located in Friuli Venezia Giulia, on the border with Austria and Slovenia

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