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Today is the day of departure and I get up at dawn.

My father has already prepared breakfast and the smell of fresh coffee comes from the kitchen. I go over and take a sip from his cup. He looks at me sadly, shakes his head and ruffles my hair.

I won’t stay for long. I will be home again for the Easter holidays. You won’t even notice my absence,” I conclude, running away in a hurry.

Mom is ready to go to the office, I say goodbye and I’m already in the car behind the wheel of my Alfa Cabriolet.

I take the road that leads to the state road and I start to follow it in the direction of Lucca Sicula, a small town in the Agrigento hinterland 34 km from Sciacca and always a treasure trove of popular traditions.

The place where dialects and ancient stories are handed down, traditional recipes and typical local products.

Lucca Sicula stretches out at the foot of the hill of Pizzo di Santa at about 500 m of altitude and from this height you can enjoy a landscape view over the valley of the Verdura river.

Once upon a time here were the Sicani, the ancient inhabitants of Sicily, who left testimonies everywhere.

With my teaching job in primary school, I already think I know practically all the approximately 2000 inhabitants of Lucca Sicula.

I moved here in September to be an annual substitute teacher, and in this pretty little corner I am rediscovering a lively and luxuriant nature sheltered from the city noise.

I still remember when I first arrived in the village.

Preparations were underway for the Feast of SS. Crucifix, which takes place in the days between 11 and 13 of September with the characteristic cattle fair and the solemn procession with the simulacrum of the Crucifix accompanied by fireworks.

Popular belief attributes the gift as being miraculous.

A legend that fascinated me tells of two nice old men who, after the words heard in the Church by a friar: “The Lord gives one hundred to whoever lends one”, they sold their house, field, oxen and donkey, they obtained 2000 shields and gave them to the poor .

Then they went to the church of the convent of Lucca Sicula, where there was a crucifix. Left alone, they knelt down to pray.

To reward them for their gesture, the Crucifix dropped a sandal at their feet. It was studded with precious gems. After a while it threw the other too.

The old men exchanged their sandals for a lot of gold coins, bought a farm and began to host wayfarers and lost ones, praising God. Hence the great devotion.

On the occasion of this festival there is no shortage of traditional homemade almond-based desserts on the Lucchese table, such as napuli and cubbata.

In the afternoon, walking through the quiet streets, I delighted to smell the sauce that is still made in the street, outdoors, in a large aluminum saucepan.

All relatives and neighbours laboriously attended, while the children enjoyed stealing the almonds “stinnuti ‘ncapu il tenni” (almonds spread on woven cloths) to dry on the sidewalks.

What a treasure trove of town. I won’t go away anymore!

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