Italy Observes a Bizarre Ritual of Dunking a Caged Politician in the River Every Year
We can travel the globe and find at least one unique and perplexing tradition or custom that is followed in a country or a particular region. It’s no different in the northern Italian city of Trento. People from other parts of the world will be surprised to know that the locals of this city have an annual tradition which is sure to scare off any politician.
According to the Trentino website, Feste Vigiliane is a yearly celebration that involves a bunch of comical rituals to worship the patron saint S. Vigilius. A week-long festival includes fashion shows, historical flashbacks, cultural events, etc. and the city is adorned and given a new look.
Events such as Tribunale della Penitenza (criminal court) on the market square and the race of the geese (Palio dell'Oca) which is a traditional raft competition, attract many visitors to this northern Italian region. But one of the most interesting parts of the historical show is La Tonca, and it takes place in the Adige River. This is sure to terrify politicians as people reenact an ancient form of punishment that dates back to the 14th and 17th centuries, per My Modern Met. In this reenactment, a person is locked up in a cage and dipped in the freezing waters of the second-longest river in Italy.
Before the event begins, a politician is chosen at the Tribunale di Penitenza or the Court of Penance which is organized publicly. It is all part of a satirical and comedic setup where locals dress up as a judge, defense attorneys and prosecutors, and someone essays the role of the convict as well. Well, it doesn’t involve putting up a serious trial for real criminals anyways but the ones who are nominated in this spectacle are those who might have done something newsworthy in the past few years.
The nominations are no longer limited to politicians and in 2022, the last four presidents of the province were nominated since they delayed the construction of a new hospital. The nominees also included a nurse who was accused of fabricating the results of COVID tests. The other two politicians were also nominated the previous year for opposing a concert of popular Italian singer-songwriter Vasco Rossi.
The fake court announces their verdict a few days later where the person who is considered the worst of the nominees must step into the cage and then get dunked into the freezing waters of Adige three times. Even though most of us from other countries might wish to have this form of justice served to criminals in our respective regions, this annual event in Italy is all about recreating punishments from the past with a dash of humor.