Last night I wended my way over the curvy hill road – checking for the sheep that graze and amble across the road from one field to another. I decided to go visit Rosella and her great kids – they live in a medieval grotto next to a waterfall and antique water fountain. The road scares the pajeeeezuz out of me – holes, animals and curves on cliffs. But visiting the Iacovella house is worth the risks. I’m thinking a quick game of scopa and a cup of caffè. That was not in the cards – it was time for city lights.
Who needs Times Square!
I jumped into the car with Rosella and the kids for a “solo cinque minute” visit to Casalduni. Rosella’s husband, Pasquale, is running for Sindaco (mayor) and silly me thought we were bopping into the village to pick up campaign stuff. My first clue was all of the cars parked along the road into Casalduni. My second clue was the kids opening the windows and sticking their heads out to see something. Whoa! That something was this brilliantly lit street leading to the small villages central square. Tonight was the first night of the festa for Santa Rita!
Of course, when I got back I had to google Saint Rita to find out who she was and what her deal was. She is the patron saint of Casalduni and the patron saint of impossible causes.
She was married to a brute. He died, her kids died and she devoted herself to God. Also for years after putting on a crown of thorns, she suffered with a terrible gash in her head. Even carrying all that pain she committed herself to doing good works.
Every Italian village has a patron saint and it looks like that saint’s day – for Rita it’s May 22 – is a good excuse to bring some music, art and history to the village. Last night the entertainment was Gruppo Folklorico Sannio Antico – (https://www.facebook.com/pages/GRUPPO-FOLKLORICO-SANNIO-ANTICO/220253154670895) . These all volunteer dancers told the story of Casalduni through music and movement. Supplying the music was Il Gruppo Fontanavecchia. In the hills, old fountains – a source of water and life – seem to be a recurring theme. One movement piece showed women washing their clothes, gossiping and filling jugs at the fountain – while the men flirted. Ah a typical Italian scene.
This is the village’s ancient fountain and water source. The water comes from the mountain.
Casalduni is an interesting village. It only has about 1500 residents but covers a great swath of land. The village historic center has tons of empty properties. I’m guessing families immigrated and just deserted their medieval row houses. The place is charming and would make an easily accessible artists colony or pied a terrè in Italy. It saddens me to see these historic villages just slowly empty.
Last night, the enthusiasm and energy of the “cittadini”made it a terrific night on the town. My theory is that people need the arts to survive and if the arts are not close by they will create their own artistic feast. I grew up in New Jersey, NY’s step-sister. Our town, Hillsborough Township, was and still is an artistic waste land. There is the occasional art show and band in the park but mostly if you want action you can visit one of the hundreds of jock filled fields – soccer, baseball, and well I don’t know what the other jock fields are for but they are there. Since Hillsborough is so close to New York, Philadelphia and Princeton, we leave town for our art fix. Here in the hills of Italy, people don’t have a lot of cash, there is limited public transportation and everyone has the soul of a Da Vinci. They make art! Dance companies are formed. Theatrical “spectacollos” are staged. Live music is found in piazzas and every child doodles on a sketch pad. Folks here create the art they crave and a saint’s day is a great opportunity to share it. Since Saint Rita’s day is May 22, we will go back tonight to see what artistic feast we can munch on.
Dancers waiting to take the stage, join the audience.
Gruppo Folklorico Sannio Antico wishes –
Con le nostre danze e canti, auguriamo a tutti una serata piacevole e che sia portatrice di pace e serenita.” Noi devoti di Santa Rita chiediamo la sua protezione.
With our dances and songs, we wish that every person enjoys the evening. Also, may this event bring serenity and peace and may Santa Rita protect everyone with many blessings.
Me, I’m just happy to see the city lights.
The night may be over but the lights and St. Rita will follow us home.