When about 18 years ago I had the opportunity to visit the town, it was love at first sight.
My family and I already frequented Abruzzo, as my father-in-law, originally from Alfedena, had transmitted to my husband, as a child, his attachment to those places and places of historical and cultural heritage.
Summer, our August holidays have always been dedicated to the mountains and even our daughters grew up in this climate.
We happened to visit our dear friends, already permanently transferred to Civitella and to begin to experience every dimension of it through the community and the sharing of whole days together. Even in special moments such as Christmas and Easter, when the town is alive with traditional events and celebrations.
The snow, the nativity scene, the torchlight procession, the religious celebrations and the warmth of the inhabitants conquered our hearts. The beauty of the small town, the wild nature and the scent of the past carved in stone, have linked us indelibly to this dream place, making us an integral part of its reality over time.
We therefore found, through our friends, a cottage for rent throughout the year: a characteristic and functional apartment in the heart of this charming medieval village, near Piazza Mercato.
Here life stopped expanding, I still savour the nostalgic atmosphere of conviviality, friendship free from conditions and age, free from the imposition of haste and frenetic rhythms.
The girls grew up among these alleys that protected their games: the ‘treasure hunts’, the slides with wooden carts, the ball, their runs in the open air in contact with the most genuine expression of a truly privileged environment .
They cultivated true friendships that have lasted since our arrival, a close-knit group that lives the summer in a rare alternative dimension now harder to be found.
The seasons unfold alternating landscapes and colours, I love walking and living in these scenes characterized by the neighbourhoods, the imposing stairways, the large portals and the living stone. Among the narrow streets and cobblestones that hold pleasant corners, characterized by wrought iron balconies and windowsills adorned with colourful descending geraniums.
Civitella Alfedena faithfully reflects the connotation of the ancient mountain village, structured on a human scale, respecting its identity and its historical and cultural origins. Harmonic and beautifully located, it provides a dreamlike dimension and for me it is now a home, a magical place to restore the spirit and find inspiration.
In summer the community is active in the preparation of attractive events which are its tradition. Cultural bulwark of early August is the Festival “Ste parole che vaij ‘rracchiappenne” which takes place in the Cultural Centre of the town and hosts the dialect theatre.
The rest of the month offers folkloristic events such as the “Sagra della Scurpella“, a local circular fried pizza, prepared during the previous night by various people and by the boys of the town. They get their hands dirty, breathe the flour, they are the new generations, they actively participate in the traditions of the village.
Who collaborates in the preparation, has the privilege to taste the hot scurpella, just fried, and share the effort in whipping the dough by hand according to the ancient method handed down from generation to generation.
On the day of the festival, a silent frenzy of eager expectation winds through the town.
The first time that I followed the parade, strictly in traditional costume, I was kidnapped. Music, folk dances are the soul of history, the emblem of simple joy. Respect for what has been is reflected in the bright faces that ends in the harmony of hospitality, wine and the sale of sweets.
My daughter, who became an honorary Civitellese, participates dressed in period costume, since she was a child.
On August 21st, all the members of my family, including my nephew, who embarked on his first experience last year, are preparing to face the pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of the Black Madonna of Canneto, an essential event, in which the traditional Compagnia of the village takes part, that is renewed annually each time including small beginners.
The youngest of the pilgrimage will carry the leafy emblem of the town on its way back.
Seeing my grandson come down tired, but proud of this role, deeply moved me, giving me the awareness that this event that will shape him in the years to come, was and will be a great opportunity for him, as for us.
The last week of summer is dedicated to the Civitella Alfedena Folk Festival, popular songs and dances fill the streets and alleys culminating with the evening “I have brought you the serenade” songs of love and serenades in an atmosphere full of feeling and history that emerges from every stone of this captivating village.
Living for years in that district, I was able to savour every aspect of it, sharing the thrill of preparation, and the beauty of that evening when everything stops on the stairs of Piazza Mercato.
After Summer comes Autumn
The mountain lives and affects us, the woods, the clearings, the slopes, the paths, the blue lake in which it is mirrored, the nature changes with the succession of the seasons, the churches, the fountains, the stone houses speak of their ancient heritage.
On autumn days the landscape is dressed in the green of the beech trees, which fade in shades of yellow-brown alongside the flaming red of the maples, and you can breathe an intoxicating scent that calls, bringing back smells and flavours of a lost time, which are reborn here, awakening dormant memories.
The rarefied atmosphere and the rigid and dry air of 1200 meters accompanies us in the long silences of winter, the white of the snow that covers and accompanies an enchanted solitude told by its diegetic soundtrack. A bonbon dusted with cotton candy, Brigadoon hides in the rigour of winter and reappears on December 30th when the beautiful and evocative “Torchlight procession” takes place.
From the Rotonda Panoramica di Santa Lucia, you can admire, on the slopes of the surrounding mountains, illuminated figures that shine in the dark of the night, accompanied by music and sounds.
The torchlight procession ends with the parade of flickering torches that feed a large bonfire in the centre of the rotunda and with rivers of mulled wine that warm and unite in the most emblematic evening before the end of the year.
Located along the streets and squares of the town you can admire the very special life-size papier mache nativity scene, with sound and realistic settings leading up to the cave where the Holy Family is located. Also whitewashed is the prelude and the abbreviation to Holy Christmas.
The festivals are lived here have a different intensity, they taste good, ancient, festive noise and the sound of bells and the town shares its joy as no one else does.