The weather which ruined many of the outside celebrations in Barga last year (articles here) tried once more to upset one of the festive highlights of the year but even though the skies opened up and threw freezing rain in the faces of all – nothing could stop the enthusiasm and joy of the waiting crowd as the Befana arrived in Piazza Angelio this afternoon.
The added presence of a troupe from the RAI TV gave an added element of suspense as the arrival of the Befana was to coincide with the live slot on national TV.
La Befana is a character in Italian folklore, similar to Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus. The character may have originated in Rome, then spread as a tradition to peninsular Italy. Her name derives from the festival of Epiphany, and she visits all the children of Italy on the eve of 6 January to fill their socks with sweets if they are good or a lump of coal if they are bad. Being a good housekeeper, many say she will sweep the floor before she leaves. The child's family typically leaves a small glass of wine and a plate with a few morsels of food, often regional or local, for Befana. She is usually portrayed as an old lady riding a broomstick through the air wearing a black shawl and is covered in soot because she enters the children's houses through the chimney. She is often smiling and carries a bag or hamper filled with sweets, gifts, or both. source – wikipedia
Further article on the Befana and her Befanotti is here