(ANSA) – SALVITELLE (SALERNO), AUGUST 28 – They run barefoot along the paths of Monte Serra San Giacomo, at an altitude of 902 meters. It happens in Salvitelle, a crib town in the Salerno area. They call them the ‘kamikaze’ and are the competitors who compete barefoot among brambles, thorns and sharp stones to be the first to reach the church and kiss the foot of the simulacrum of the statue of San Sebastiano Martire.
The particular foot race, starting today at 6 pm, takes place every year on the last Sunday of August to honor San Sebastiano Martire. Anyone can participate, adults and children, as long as they reside in Salvitelle. After the race, the ‘suicide bombers’ disinfect the wounds of their feet by immersing them in vats of local red wine. The same competitors, then, in the evening compete in Greco-Roman wrestling contests.
“We are proud – declares the mayor Maria Antonietta Scelza – to carry on this traditional event which attracts thousands of tourists and faithful to Salvitelle on the occasion of the celebrations of our patron saint”.
The unique race recalls what happened between the end of the 1700s and the beginning of the 1800s on the Serra San Giacomo, the scene of an exercise by French fusiliers. The shepherds of Salvitelle challenged the French soldiers barefoot who, instead, wore heavy boots. Obviously the shepherds, barefoot, punctually surpassed the better equipped French.