The Fairyfolk

The Fairyfolk are groups of men and women that meet up at night to dance in clearings around a tree, or to weave long processions along the valleys.

They are typical of the Serchio valley and nearby areas. Indifferent to the life of the town, they can nevertheless be particularly dangerous if you encounter them or if you try to interfere with their activities.

Although they are different from witches and do not do witchcraft per se, in various stories they end up absorbing some witch-like characteristics.
They also appear as lights, small lamps that move in the night, but they can also take the form of animals, particularly cats, weasels and donkeys
The torches they carry and pass on to some unknowing townsman, or the violin they give to the musician hired for the evening’s entertainment, are revealed to be shinbones of corpses, as are the pieces of meat from the ‘hunt’ that they hurl at windows.
In the daytime they lead a normal life, as long as they are not ‘blocked’ in the place where they are found or in the form they have assumed by some special gesture such as plunging a knife (stiletto) into the ground or into a tree.
They can move quickly, covering significant distances.
They were banished after the Council of Trent, a vaguely defined event that took place in an era not far from our own.

Umberto Bertolini
Translation by Linda Barwick, The University of Sydney, Australia


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