I Tri da Cruci (the Three Crosses) is a traditional festival held every year in Tropea, on the 3rd of May.
Its name originates from three wooden crosses kept in the altar of a small church on the suburbs of the town, in Via Umberto I, a church that collapsed in 1875 after an earthquake. The crosses were saved and placed in the church of the souls in purgatory and, nowadays, are still objects of veneration.
On this occasion, the village is decorated with candles and colorful flags, and a boat laden with fireworks is suspended in the air, near the Piazza Cannone. Of the events taking place in the morning, we can mention the dance of the giants, when two large puppets dance on the streets of the town. Afterwards, the children pop balloons with a wooden stick and the adults break jugs filled with water.
On the evening, the boat is lit on fire, creating a beautiful spectacle of lights, colors and explosions. Later, the dance of the camel on fire (camiuzzu i focu) takes place, when a paper and wood camel stuffed with fireworks is dancing on the streets of the town, accompanied by the rhythm of drums.
I Tri da Cruci, according to some sources, existed as early as the 12th century, and at that time it was a purely religious festival. Later, the festival gained pagan meanings and symbols related to the history of Tropea.
The festival is specially related to the participation of its citizens in the Battle of Lepanto, from 1571, when the Turkish and Saracen pirates were driven away for good from this area.
In 1571, 1200 people from Tropea departed under the command of Captain Gaspare Toraldo, and were distinguished for their courage in the Strait of Lepanto. Gaspare Toraldo distinguished himself during the battle, when he attacked a Moorish ship, capturing 30 men and their captain. The return of the people to Tropea was heralded by a dove.
I TRI DA CRUCI 2019 will be held as usual on May 3. On the evening, starting around 9.30 pm, the historical reenactment of the expulsion of the Turks will take place, and around midnight, a spectacular fireworks display will illuminate the beautiful Church of Santa Maria dell’Isola.