Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Wine festivals, dancing and the Sea

I have blog ADD tonight! Too many topics that I'm interested in and none of them are really popping out for me to concentrate on. Here is a bit of what's on my mind:

Last night I wondered what was going on in the rest of Italy while Rome was indulging itself in the Ludi Romani. In Tuscany, specifically the Chianti region, they were harvesting the grapes and pressing them, beginning the vintage for the following year. My search for information on the festivals and impending-autumn traditions of the region led me to Wine Therapy! Not just drinking it, but apparently bathing in it and using it as a cosmetic goes waaaaaaaaay back in recorded history. It's named amongst Cleopatra's beauty treatments too.

Another festival which just passed is the festival of Madonna a Mare, Madonna of the Sea, which takes place in the Messina region of Sicily. A golden statue of The Holy Mother is processed to the beach and set on an illuminated boat where it leads a boat procession. Hundreds of  fishing boats follow and the Madonna gives a Benediction of the Sea in the bay.

Not surprisingly, there are other, similar festivals which happen in Sicily at the same time:

The northern coastal city Altavilla Milicia, population 5000, gives thanks to the Madonna of Milicia. According to tradition, endangered fishermen threw her image into the tempestuous sea, which very suddenly became tranquil. The city renders homage to her with a great party.

In the northern coastal village of Baucina, population 2000, twelve groups of girls represent episodes in the life and the martyrdom of the patron saint, Santa Fortunata. Fifty believers carry a very heavy urn on their shoulders. Legend says that the Saint assists or hampers them depending on men’s level of loyalty.

As you may have gathered in previous posts, I am a fan of Italian traditional, magical dancing, particularly the tarantella and the pizzica. I was researching Puglia and it's history of Pizzica and came across this really cool article about a summer solstice pizzica festival. A pizzica rave! A few highlights:

Tinged with voodoo, pizzica folk music has added rhythm to one of Italy's cultural hotspots

A record 200,000 revellers –mainly young – attended this year's two-week series of concerts

Fast, hypnotic and tambourine-driven, the pizzica derives from a centuries-old concoction of faith healing and peasant culture, mixed with a whiff of Italian voodoo.

"The music is so closely tied to the local culture and identity, to joy, life and death, that it would be tough to turn it into a plastic, tourist experience."

Yeah, well, don't doubt they'll try.  Add another thing to my Italy to-do list!

That's all for tonight. Tomorrow I hope to have a special field report!

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