Sordevolo, Italy, is a small town of only 1,300 inhabitants, and it is famous for its stunning and unspoiled scenery, mountains, castles, and the historic production of the Passion Play every five years.
The Passion of Sordevolo
Performed since 1815, the Passion Play is a unique re-enactment of the “Passion of Christ” played out by the residents of Sordevolo. For three months during the summer, all the local families, children included, participate in the preparation of the play, building the scenery, making the costumes, rehearsing and passing down the roles from one generation to the next.
“This is a unique event that only occurs every five years,” said Gianni Miradoli, president of Tourinvest LLC, and promoter for GT Experiences.
The Passion Play actors are all residents of Sordevolo, and none of them are professional actors. For these actors, the play is an endeavor of love for their community — as well as a huge draw for tourists and seasonal visitors. “Here, these actors aren’t professional, but they’re better than professionals because it’s their life, their community, their passion.”
The Passion Play is performed in an open-air amphitheater that transforms a corner of Sordevelo into a corner of Jerusalem during the crucifixion of Jesus. The seating area holds up to 2,300 spectators; is covered; and is equipped with comfortable ergonomic seats.
The play is based on a text written by Giuliano Dati, of Florence, in the 16th century. In the past, it was performed in the Coliseum in Rome every Good Friday. Although it is not known how the play made its way to Sordevolo, this small dedicated community has adopted the spirit of the production and held strong to its memory for more than two centuries.
“They give their best, so people can remember this event forever,” said Miradoli. “This is a fantastic event, and I suggest for the people that [haven’t been before] to try Sordevolo, because they will not be disappointed … It’s very impressive.
The play's main character, Marco Caldi, who plays Jesus in the early years of Jerusalem, and Gianni Miradoli, president of Tourinvest LLC, and promoter for GT Experiences, during a media conference to promote the upcoming Passion Play, and Sordevolo as a travel destination. Photo: Daine Taylor / Travel Market Report
The Passion Play will be performed in Sordevolo every Friday and Saturday (and some Sundays), from June through September 2020.
Beyond the stage
While the Passion Play represents a huge draw for tourists and visitors, it’s far from the only reason people should make the trip. Sordevolo is located in the countryside of the Piedmont region of Italy, and is known for its beautiful mountains, hills and plains, as well as world-class wines, cheeses and truffles.
“I think it’s very [appealing] to come to the region, because you can have an authentic Italian cultural experience,” said Mauro Carbone, director of the Tourism Board of Langhe Monferrato Rocro, also located within the Piedmont region of Italy.
That area of Italy is world renowned for its food and wine selection. “But I think the most important reason is to come and have an experience of real Italy,” Carbone said. “The Italian experience is an experience of food and drink, but also as a way of staying together for Italian people. It’s the philosophy of food, not only the cuisine experience.”
Between the natural wonders of the region, the incredible food and wine, and the upcoming Passion Play, 2020 looks to be a year ripe with opportunity for those planning on visiting Sordevolo.
“This is a fantastic region for enogastronomy [food and wine tourism], for art, for culture, for nature. Really, it’s a combination of these and [the Passion Play] that make this place so fantastic. And it’s not too far away from Venice or Florence, so for the people that want to become familiar with other parts of Italy within the span of [a week], they can stay and [experience] a lot of what Italy has to offer,” said Miradoli.