Each July giant wooden structures strapped with millions of colorful lights are erected in the village of Scorrano in honor of the town’s patron saint, Santa Domenica. Located in the Puglia region of Italy, Scorrano, a small rural village in the Salento district, jumps to life for Notte delle Luci (meaning Night of Lights), with people coming from all around the region to witness the awe-inspiring Luminarie, as the light displays are officially called, and to celebrate Santa Domenica Day on July 6.
The origins of the Luminarie date back to the 16th century when the queen of Poland and Lithuania visited Scorrano. In anticipation of her arrival, the villagers placed floral motifs around the village’s wooden archways in her honor. Though, it’s Santa Domenica who’s responsible for the light displays of today, after saving the village from the plague in the 17th century. The story goes that after she brought the town back from the brink of death, she requested that each family light a candle to remember the deceased. One thing led to another, oil lamps became electric bulbs, and the Luminarie, as we know them now, were born.
Today, the tradition of the Luminarie are kept alive by three family companies who have strong ties to the region. Each year, as they’ve been doing for generations, the families create elaborate, kaleidoscope displays that represent church facades and religious motifs, as well as iconic monuments from around the world. The Notte delle Luci festival is held each year from July 5 to July 9.