Town punishes its politicians by putting them in a cage in a river (Video)

A city in Italy has a weird way of punishing people just to catch fun. In this city, every year they put people into a cage and dunk them in the river by way of punishment, though it’s just a quick dip meant for a bit of fun rather than an attempt to off somebody.

Lots of places around the world have their own select set of customs and rituals, but you’d be hard pressed to find a town where they put the most annoying people into cages and lower them into the river.

This charming aquatic event is called the ‘Tonca’, and it is part of the Vigilian celebrations which the city of Trento puts on every year in the second half of June.

The events are meant to honour Saint Vigilio, the patron saint of the city, and one of the main events is the Court of Penitence where famous figures from Trento who have disgraced themselves over the year are put on trial.

If you live in Trento, Italy, don't mess up too badly or you might end up being the star attraction of the Tonca. Credit: TGR/Reddit

Some will be found innocent and spared a dunking in the river, but for those found guilty their punishment is to be condemned for the Tonca.

Very often this means that a politician is going to be among those taking a dip in the waters, because when you’re looking for the person in the city who has screwed up the most it’s usually going to be a politician.


The Tonca traditionally takes place on the last Sunday before 26 June, the date when the celebrations come to an end.

Last year it took place on 19 June and a total of six people were found guilty while five were saved from a plunge into the River Adige.

Dunking people into the river in a cage is a spoof on a historical punishment used for much of the last millennium for those who had been found guilty of committing blasphemy.

However, when it’s done these days for the festival the people found guilty get to be winched back out of the water again while they’re still alive, instead of staying there until the locals are sure they’re dead and want their cage back.

This summer if you’re stuck for holiday destinations you could always give Trento a go and give the Tonca a look, just make sure you don’t commit any catastrophic screw-ups while over there or it might be you getting chucked into a cage and lowered into the river.

The Adige River runs through Trento and every year some unpopular locals (usually politicians) get dunked in it. Credit: Michael Dutton / Alamy Stock Photo

The Tonca recently went viral and naturally it’s sparked a whole load of people saying other places around the world should adopt it.

I’m sure you could think of a few notorious figures from your local town that would make your Tonca list.



About Saxon

Saxon is a prolific writer with passion for the unusual. I believe the bizarre world is always exciting so keeping you up to date with such stories is my pleasure

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