Every May 1, Cocullo celebrates one of the world's strangest festivals. This hilltop settlement in the Abruzzo region honours its patron saint San Domenico de Sora — Saint Dominic — by draping his statue in snakes and parading it through the village. The festival in its current form dates back to the 14th century, when townsfolk paid homage to Saint Dominic, the 11th century founder of the... Еще Dominican order, who was said to have rid the area of venomous serpents. In the lead up to the festival, snake-catchers or «serapos» are tasked with capturing four types of local snakes. The patron saint's statue is then covered in snakes and taken on a procession. Visitors are invited to touch the snakes, which are thought to contain healing properties. Once the celebrations have ended, the cycle begins again, as reptiles return to the wild and «separos» try to catch them.