What is “juta” in Montevergine? Recurrence, tradition, legend and gastronomic products

“They are all beautiful, except one which is ugly and therefore flees to a high mountain, Montevergine”.

This phrase refers to the 7 Madonnas of Campania, born from Sant’Anna and San Gioacchino. In particular to one of the seven sister Madonnas, the Black Madonna of Montevergine or Mamma Schiavona. The feast of the Madonna di Montevergine is the only one that is repeated during the year because it opens and closes a cycle of celebrations dedicated to the Seven Madonnas which takes place in different places and sanctuaries that ends on 12 September. Pilgrims who go to worship the Madonna usually arrive the previous evening and stop at Ospedaletto d’Alpinolo, from where they will leave the following morning to perform the so-called “sagliuta” or “juta”: “whoever wants grace must get on the great mountain “. According to the legend, the ugly, offended Madonna justifies the escape: “if I am ugly, then they will have to come up here to visit me!”.

The celebration

The festival is characterized by tammurriate, typical local songs, which continue throughout the morning in the churchyard of the Sanctuary. Characteristic is the song that is performed on the ancient “holy staircase” of the Church: at each step you stop, a soloist intones the proposal while the choir concludes. The whole “climb” consists of 23 steps and the whole staircase represents the same mountain. At the end of the rite, you enter the church and leave the main door singing with the drum, without ever turning your back on the picture of the Madonna.

The legend of “femminielli”

Particularly devoted, finally, are the so-called “femminielli”, who every year go to Montevergine to give thanks to their favorite Madonna, in the so-called “juta dei femminiell”. Here a large group renews their Catholic faith every year by presenting themselves in procession to the ancient abbey. The rite harks back to an ancient tradition according to which in 1256, two young homosexuals were discovered kissing and loving each other. Faced with this event, the entire community reacted by stripping and chasing the two lovers out of the village who were tied to a tree on Mount Partenio, so that they died of hunger or were torn to pieces by wolves. The Virgin, moved by their story and their love, freed them from their chains and allowed the young couple to openly live their feelings in front of an entire community that, having attested to the Miracle, could not help but accept what had happened.


The gastronomic and artisanal vector revolves around sacredness. For this day, therefore, the spotlight will be on the confectionery center, for which Ospedaletto d’Alpinolo is also known, specializing in the production of nougat, dry pastries, biscuits, Easter eggs and dried fruit. Above all the nougat, the “cupeta”, is closely linked to the celebration of the Madonna of Montevergine: since ancient times pilgrims have stopped here to find refreshment and taste the typical products of the area, such as the “cupeta”, an original blend of honey, egg white and hazelnuts, ancestor of the southerner. Today, as then, faithful and simple tourists can taste and buy our delicacies.

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