I was thinking I would get bored in Lucca Sicula with the arrival of autumn, but the end of October already brings another festival: that of the very precious extra virgin olive oil.
It is an oil that delights the palate and the nose of visitors with an ecstasy of the senses, thanks to its fresh and intense, strong and decisive perfume.
Meetings, visits to oil mills and tastings of typical local products such as muffulette, cunzatu bread with oil and sardines, as well as cheese, olives, wine, cold cuts and ricotta are held inside the festival.
These months have passed quickly since I started working in Lucca Sicula.
Spring has already arrived, with its colours that warm the heart and fill it with emotions. I open the window and the scent of orange blossom of the green orange groves fills me fully. I breathe it deeply.
After an hour and a half of travel I arrive at school and park my car.
There is great excitement in the courtyard. The pupils discuss animatedly, seem electrified, hurry up, shout and shout: “Long live San Giovanni!” “Long live San Michele!“. With a serious look I invite them to enter the class, asking to leave the Saints alone.
During the recreation, while we prepare the juice with the very tasty freshly picked oranges from a citrus grove near the village, (there are many in this area) the children storm me with questions.
“Master, do you have ‘rigattiate’ in your town?” “Who is Sangiuannara or Sanmichilara? (Where are you from San Giovanni or San Michele?) “.
I look at them with a strange air and I don’t understand anything.
Some unbutton their shirts showing me the red sweatshirts with the image of San Giovanni, others the blue sweatshirts with the image of San Michele. They are the colours of the Easter feast.
I see their eyes shining with excitement and I begin to sense something.
Then on leaving school, a colleague invites me to stay in Lucca Sicula for the holidays, explaining the rich folkloric tradition on the occasion of Easter.
After the moving ‘Ncontru’ (Meeting) between the Madonna and the Risen Jesus, in the large Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, dominated by the ancient Palazzo Lo Cascio of the eighteenth century, the procession begins in the city streets.
The Lucchesi are divided into two organizing committees: the “Sangiuannara“, ie the devotees of San Giovanni who gather in front of the Mother Church, and “Sanmichilara” or the devotees of San Michele who gather in front of the Church of the Rosary.
The two groups compete during the “rigattiate” (maybe ‘regatta’), that is the races in the square carrying the simulacra of the Saints.
Each committee has its traditional music performed by a band. The statues of the two Saints are decorated with floral ornaments and are made to run by young and old.
The festival ends with the impressive fireworks organized by the two committees.
I ask myself: “Are they crazy to make the Saints dance?” “Of course, it would be nice to stay here and see this party!” I think suddenly.
“But who will explain it to me?“.
The car is bad tempered and does not want to start. I walk towards the centre. The heat begins to be felt.
I stop in the square and go to the fountain where La Primavera is located, the whitish marble statue that represents the woman’s body.
I bathe my forehead, look up and look at the red and blue carpet formed by the Easter decorations. A splendid sight!
That’s enough! I have decided! I stay here in Lucca Sicula!
You should do it too!
Choose a traditional festival and organize a trip out of town to this peaceful Sicilian village welcoming and open to visitors.
Cover Picture from Wikipedia