Pizzica is the folk dance of the Salento, a region best known for farming, deep in the South-East of Italy. It’s an area characterised by stunning natural beauty and relative geographical and cultural isolation from the rest of the country. Its rich history can be traced through Medieval Byzantine and Graeco-Roman influences back to the Bronze Age.

Pizzica’s timeless roots go back to the Dionysiac festivals and the pagan myth of the tarantula spider, once a common presence in the sun-scorched fields all over the Mediterranean coast.

According to popular belief, the “pizzicu” (bite) of the spider induces an altered state of mind that can only be healed by a frenetic dance to the relentless beat of the tambourine, until trance is achieved and the mind liberated.

With the passing of the centuries, this primeval, shamanic ritual transformed itself into more festive forms that spread beyond the Salento to other regions of southern Italy. Of all those forms, the most famous is undoubtedly the tarantella. The magical origins of this dance can still be felt: listeners cannot help but join in!

Formed in London, UK in 2011 by a group of passionate expats from the Salento, Amaraterra has grown into a multi-national ensemble, presenting its audience with a joyful and energetic selection of pizzica and roots music from all over the south of Italy, and adapting its style of music to the vibrant and cosmopolitan world music scene without weakening the links to its traditional musical canon.

Amaraterra’s songs and dances speak of love, happiness, longing and passion in a simple, energetic way that gets its core message through the linguistic barrier by sheer force of rhythm: Embrace life with pure joy and abandon yourself to the dance that heals!


Simona de Leonardis (Vocals, dance)
Carla Pandarese (Vocals, dance)
Massimiliano Passante (Tamburello, vocals)
Federico Tommasi (Tamburello, vocals)
Antonio Fersini (Guitar, vocals)
Alfredo Giani (Mandola, guitar, vocals)
Cassandre Balbar (Recorder, bagpipe)
Stelios Katsatsidis (Accordion)
Daniele Rizzo (Tamburello, dance, harmonica)
Mark Glanville (Baritone)