Italian folklore characters – Il buffarello

Italian folklore characters – Il buffarelloI think in every country there are stories about folklore characters and Italy is no exception.

In Italy, every region has some peculiar folklore characters. So, today I’m going to talk about one of these Italian folklore characters: Buffarello.


Buffarello is a character born in Val di Serchio, in Tuscany. He’s a naughty sprite, not very tall – usually he’s 50 cm tall – and usually dressed in red clothes and pointed shoes.

His appearance changes from town to town. In fact, in some towns he’s described as a black and ugly animal, in others as a beardless child, or a beardless young man, while in some others he’s described as an old man with a beard.

Despite his appearance, Buffarello has always a distinctive trait: his hands have a hole. Apparently, this was a “gift” from Saint John to prevent him from choking people during the night.

Buffarello is usually invisible but some people have seen him. They tell that he lives on the trees, usually on walnut trees.

Buffarello loves to play pranks on people in the night. He particularly loves to stand on people’s chest while they’re sleeping or to hit it. Sometimes, he also places a hand on the mouth of the unlucky person or grab his hands to keep them from moving.

Other very common pranks Buffarello plays are removing blankets, making strange noises, and hiding or moving objects.

It appears that buffarello doesn’t like priests. He usually breaks their glasses and makes animal noises while they’re sleeping.

However, they’re something people can do to protect themselves from Buffarello.

The first thing to do is to try to prevent him from entering the house. So, people usually close the windows.

On the door they hang a little branch of juniper. People say that this is necessary to distract Buffarello. Indeed, when he sees the juniper, he always stops to count all the berries. After he’s done, he usually forgets the reason why he’s standing in front of a house, and so he decides to leave.

The same trick can be used inside the house, just in case Buffarello manages to enter.

Another trick people use to get rid of him in case he’s in their house is to bring with them a candle made of three different types of wax, it seems Buffarello can’t stand it.

Do you happen to know some other Italian folklore characters? Are there any folklore characters in your country?


Original image by Bru-nO

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