Who ARE These Guys?

December 20, 2010

Well, I never. My first Christmas in Sicily, and so many surprises! I found this pair wandering an empty piazza. They stopped so I could shoot them, but I didn’t dare interrupt the music to ask Who in blazes are you?

Sicilian Musicians at Christmas, copyright Jann HuizengaThe Great God Google says they’re Zampognari. The instrument on the right is a zampogna, or Italian bagpipe, made of reeds and a sheep’s hide, and dating back to the time of Nero.

In Sicily, bagpipe-blowing shepherds traditionally come down from Mount Etna at Christmastime to play in the villages–sort of the Sicilian equivalent of Christmas carolers.

Are these Zampognari real shepherds dressed up as Santa? Or faux shepherds trying to revive what many fear is a dying art? I’m not sure, but they blow a mean Christmas carol.


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