Lunigiana bonfires are not the only evidence in Italy of traditions related to the lighting of propitiatory fires. Throughout the country, from Romagna to Salento, in fact, huge stacks of wood are raised and burned to illuminate the short nights of the winter months. It is a rite rooted in the ancient rites of pagan tradition.
They seem, in fact, to relate back to the remote cults that celebrated the Sun god, the representation of life, by lighting fires to propitiate his "victory" against the cold and barren winter and to wish a good harvest season. The bonfires, moreover, symbolized the desire to abandon everything that belonged to the past months in order to make the best start to the coming year (it is no coincidence that they are lit close to January!).
Over the centuries, this practice was adopted and revalued by Christianity, thus becoming the tradition of today.
But it did not end there. A local tradition links Pontremolese bonfires to the ancient medieval hostility between the Guelph and Ghibelline factions, supporters of the Papacy and the Empire, respectively. The often violent clashes between these two parties marked the history and conformation of Pontremoli, which, in 1322, was forced to divide the village in two with the construction of the Cortina di Cacciaguerra in order to deal with the cruelties. Their antagonism has come down to us, albeit mitigated and in the form of a game, in the form of the competition between the two bonfires. In reality, there must have been many more Pontremolese fires in the past: evidence and documents attest to the practice of lighting parish bonfires as far back as the 16th century.