Every year people in Cocullo, a small medieval town in Italy’s Abruzzo region, adorn a wooden statue of its patron saint with live snakes and parade it through the streets.
The “serpari” festival, on 1 May, honours San Domenico di Sora for miraculously removing snakes from farmers’ fields in the 11th Century .
However, it is also said to originate from the ancient worship of Angitia, a Roman goddess of snakes worshipped by people in central Italy.
Some people wear outfits that are traditional to the Abruzzo region.
Snake catchers and charmers – or serpari – catch four types of harmless snakes, before handing them out to worshippers.
The snakes are then placed gently on a wooden statue of San Domenico.
More and more snakes are added, until San Domenico is almost completely covered.
The statue is then carried through the streets, held up high in the centre of a long procession.
While many march along, some people watch from their balconies.
After the festival, the snakes are released back into the wild.
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