Friday, September 3, 2010

Down South, Part III

Click here and here for parts I and II, if you are just joining my travels.

The next day we prepared for the Festa di San Nazario. San Nazario is the patron saint of the small town of Perdifumo. The day began with us arriving in town from our hostel. My friend's family and our little group made our way down to the town's church early in the morning. The church had recently been renovated, we were told, and it was amazing to see the inside of the church. The church was too small to fit the entire town inside, however, so we were only able to stand at the entrance to the church, which was filled with people. More people had filled in behind us. At 9am, the sun was already beating down strongly upon our heads, but to our relief, there was a slight breeze as we stood there in the entrance.

The mass, of course, was held in Italian. At the time, my Italian was not as good as it is now. In fact, it was nowhere near as good, and I would love to sit in on a mass now just to see how much I would be able to understand. The mass followed the order to which I am accustomed to here at home. The only difference however with churches in Italy is that usually you must have your shoulders covered, and your legs relatively covered. There are some churches that will not even allow you to enter unless you have the appropriate attire.

Upon the end of the mass, we made way for the procession to begin. San Nazario was hoisted up onto the shoulders of the town's men, and carried out of the church. Priests in candy apple red, yellow and white garments exited before the statue. Large, heavy red banners lightly fluttered in the now nearly non-existent breeze. The band waited on the side, socializing with friends, until everyone was prepared for the ascend up the first hill from the church. It was a mixture of the informal and the formal; tradition and the modernity of the townspeople.

Since this was our very first festa (well at least for me), we all happily followed the procession making our way slowly up the hill. We soon gave up as the walk would be long, and it was just too hot. Along the road, there is a passageway that is the entrance to the town. Here many of the townspeople gather as this is also the local watering hole. Further up in the mountain is a fresh spring, and the water is clean enough to drink right out of the faucet. We were then taken to my friend's family's home where the feast began. Pasta, eggplant, tomatoes, cakes - all sorts of foods that were, "grown on their land", they
explained happily. I had the pleasure of sitting next to my friend's eldest uncle, who only spoke dialect. Many attempts were made by him to speak to me, but I could not understand him sadly. He excitedly thought through his memories about the time he had visited the United States. He never learned English, but remembered learning the word, whorehouse.

Our meal came to an immediate halt when a baby bat flew through the open windows. However, it was day time! It flew around, scared to death probably, until it hung itself upside down under the table. One of my friend's uncles picked it up and threw it back out the window. The eldest of the uncles explained that it had probably fallen out of a tree while sleeping, and was merely startled. It seemed like a reasonable explanation, but it was sure odd that a little bat was flying around during the day. (No, it was not foaming at the mouth, and no, no one was bitten.)

After having our fill and bidding everyone farewell, we piled into two cars, and two of the uncles (he has a very big family and many uncles!), drove us to a nearby castello with amazing views of the sea.

To be continued....

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