How did I spend my birthday yesterday? In the morning I went down to the orto with ten litres of desperately needed water for the few tomatoes and courgettes which are surviving the prolonged drought.
Later I was joined by my wife followed by one of our cats, Carlotta, and we relaxed by playing a game of boules. Carlotta joined in the fun though I was lightly reminded of the game of croquet with flamingos in Alice in Wonderland. Carlotta was very good at estimating which boule was closest to the winning post.
After a light birthday lunch (it’s difficult to eat anything more than light in this weather)
we were given the most wonderful weather present in a rainstorm. We rushed out just to feel the cool water drip over us and have our first shower for some days. Sheer bliss!
It’s medieval festa time in Italy and we decided to visit the one at Coreglia Antelminelli and meet up with friends there.
There were stalls and even a mediaeval dentist who we definitely wanted to avoid even though he seemed cheaper than your standard high street one.
Everything was beautifully organised. Entrance was free and we only paid for what we wanted to eat which in our case included an antipasto and a sweet.
Every mediaeval festa has it special highlights. For Coreglia Antelminelli these were four groups of Sbandieratori or flag twirlers. Their virtuosity and choreography were of the highest standard. As everyone knows Gallicano’s Sbandieratori always win national prizes for their displays but even Coreglia’s own group, mainly consisting of girls, was excellent.
A somewhat fiery combat between two knights then took place.
An amazing act involving a fiery girl followed.
Some wonderful bird of prey were on proud display:
Stories were recited:
Fortunes were told:
And, to top it all the evening ended with an absolutely spectacular fireworks display.
We didn’t hold a birthday party in our orto this year. It was just as well since our village hadn’t had water for two days and it was still uncomfortably hot at 5.00 pm. Instead, we had a glorious time just with ourselves in the morning and with one of our cats and, in the evening, with our friends in the fabulous pageantry of Coreglia Antelminelli’s superb Festa Medievale.
Again, crowds were just the right number and the navetta (shuttle) service ensured that there were absolutely no traffic jam when we returned home around 1 in the morning to arrive at a village wonderfully cooled by the storm.
There are plenty more mediaeval feste in Italy. There’s, of course, our local one at Gombereto and the highly picturesque one at Nozzano Castello but what we saw last night would be a hard act to follow.
It’s easy to miss the feste. There are just so many of them! Apart from the local tourist office you could start looking on the web at http://www.inforapido.it/web?ts=go&q=feste+medievali
(Photographs also by courtesy of Alessandra. Thanks!)