Yeah, it is officially summer in Pontelandolfo! Yesterday, June 13th, was the festa for San Antonio di Padova – the annual kick off of the summer season. This saint merits a two pronged celebration – check out the poster – “Programma Religiouso” and Programma Civile”. Over two days, San Antonio was given three masses, a procession with a band and his statue was carried through out the town! The not so religious program was a great cover band set up in the piazza that played the canon of Italian rock and traditional folk frenzy music.
Jack and I made it to town in time to see the procession come down a hill from the church. The brass band led the way, followed by the little children in white robes and a group of men carrying the massive stature. There were even more folks processing than I had seen for Corpus Domini. We decided to sit at a bar and watch the actiity.
The three bar’s in the piazza had set up outside service bars, food stations and extra tables. Think the Jersey Shore! Our favorite, Bar Elimar, sported wicker couches and coffee tables. Two of the bars had set up “kebab” stations – we would call them gyro stations. Big hunks of mystery meat on a gyro skewer turning slowly and oozing a great scent.
We plopped on the comfy couches at Bar Elimar, ordered a vino bianco and a prosecco, and quietly watched the procession wend its way out of the square. When our drinks arrived, we were pleasantly surprised to also get great little plates of olives, mini mini sandwiches and little fried puff pastries. After two drinks each and the whopping 5 Euro bill ($6.60), we carefully walked up the hill towards the medieval tower. We were headed for Il Castello, a great seafood and pizza restaurant.
The band wasn’t starting for another hour and the owners of Il Castello, Salvatore and Lidia, always treat us like family. We knew that munching on Salvatore’s wood oven pizza and chatting up a storm in both Italian and English with Lidia would be a great way to pass the time. We ate our pizza, drank our wine and then felt the drums begin to fill the square. It was time to carefully pick our way over the cobblestones down the steep hill to the piazza. How do young women wear heels on cobblestones? I am tripping my way down in flats. Ooops – #$%#%%.
Since it was a bit chilly – the wind was whipping over the mountain – there weren’t as many people out for the nine o’clock “spettacolo” as I’ve seen at past musical events. Those of us who did brave the chill, with grappa and caffè in hand, danced in place, swayed and sang along. Ba ba boom – and then the fireworks kicked in. Jack and I quickly went to the promenade that overlooks a valley and watched the show. Something really bothered me – no one said “Ahhhhh” or “Ohhhhh”. I tried to get the crowd to ooo and ahh but Jack put his hand on my mouth. I guess I was embarrassing him.
When we lived in Asbury Park and were the insane proprietors of Caffè e Dolce, the money losing bistro from hell, Memorial Day kicked off the summer season. In the good old days, there would be a concert on the beach and thousands of kids would squish together on the sand and hopefully buy stuff from all of us starving beach front vendors. The day after the Memorial Day event the beach was full of trash. The boardwalk was full of trash. The streets were full of trash. You will never guess what I didn’t see walking into town today – TRASH! Last night, there was a concert, dancing in the streets, fireworks and folks sitting all around the piazza. I found one soda can under a tree and a couple of paper towels. H’mmm che cosa???
I must tell you, until yesterday, I was freezing my proverbial ass off (OK, I wish it would freeze off) but you get the idea. May was incredibly cold. I had a visiting nephew pack a pair of sweat pants for me and bring them to not so sunny in May Italy. Today – the day after we celebrated San Antonio, I walked down the hill to Bar Elimar for my morning cappuccino and it was hot. Not a little warm, not maybe a great day, but honest to heaven summer hot – and it was only 8:30 AM! That San Antonio is an incredibly powerful guy!
Check out the slides!
Read all about more Summer Events in Pontelandolfo – In Italian of course!