In Italy, a festival for chimney sweeps

 

A small town in Italy throws an annual September party for the declining numbers of professional chimney sweeps, drawing participants from around the world to northwest Italy.

Santa Maria Maggiore has run the festival for about forty years, and although the number of chimney sweeps continues to decline in an age of cleaner fuels, it draws over a thousand participants from all over Europe and North America.

The area has a long, and sad historical connection with the trade, which relied on small people, able to move through a chimney, scraping loose the deposits of ash, carbon and worse. The town's area became known as the Valley of the Sweeps, because in hard times, many families "apprenticed," or effectively sold children as young as six to adult sweeps for service all over Europe.

The festival events include a variety of events, ending up with a parade that starts in the streets, and, for the more daring and agile, continues across the town's rooftops. For a fuller description and coloful pictures from TheLocal.it click HERE

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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