(click on photos to enlarge)
This past weekend, we were excited to be invited to a Italian village feast by our friends Jane and Enrico from Toronto. Enrico was born in Capitignano, Abruzzo where there is an annual feast of the Madonna (Madonna degli Angeli) dating back to the 17th cent. The drive there on Saturday morning was very scenic as Abruzzo is green and mountainous, a pleasure to drive through.
When we got there, the procession from the church had just started. A brass band led the way followed by the statue of The Virgin borne aloft by a few strong men. Dressed in a red robe with a blue cape and a crown on her head, she was a fine sight. Every few yards, usually in front of someone’s house, a person would approach to pin money to ribbons hanging from the Virgin’s arms. There were quite a number of 50 Eur notes fluttering about! After doing a round of the village, the statue was returned to the church in a burst of fireworks followed by Mass. Then it was time for lunch.
We were invited to Ennrico’s aunt Elena and uncle Enrico Sr. for lunch. It was a beautiful sunny day and we started with appetizers in the garden. A gargantuan lunch followed, consisting of an antipasto plate, two types of pasta, three types of meat, vegetables and an array of sweets, all accompanied by copious amounts of wine, and ending with home-made liqueurs. The relatives were happy to see Enrico again and it was a jolly affair with stories and memories of the past.
Meanwhile, the village was preparing for the evening festivities which included a live band playing in the main Piazza.
There was a fascinating array of photos from times past on display in the Piazza. I was particularly struck by the photos of the dowry (la dote) being carried to the husband’s house by the bride’s relatives. The photo on the right taken in 1956, actually shows Elena’s (our hostess) relatives (including our friend Enrico’s mother) taking la dote to the house where we had just had lunch. Typically, ‘la dote’ would consist of the bride’s goods, linens, and so forth. Likely money was involved as well with some families.
In the evening, people walked about the village meeting up with friends and relatives who had come back for the event. Babies, teenagers, grandparents and parents all mingled which is something I enjoy seeing. The band played when night fell and the village was lit up just like Christmas. It was truly a memorable occasion.