Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bevagna, Italy

Our day started with walk around Spoleto. The wall that Denise and I are standing in front of is a Roman wall. You can tell it is of Roman times because of the size of the large stones that were used.

We grabbed a slice at Denise's favorite pizzeria. It was delicious! I got the funghi pizza (it is much better than it sounds...).

Over the course of the 3 week Spoleto festival there are many free events throughout the day. We snuck into a newly renovated theater and, on brand new butter-soft leather seats, watched a 40 year old Fellini movie. We snuck out soon after when it seemed to be going nowhere fast. I guess I am not a Fellini enthusiast!

Since we had got such a high from sneaking into the last place we thought we would try another location. We snuck into Teatro Nuevo, the performing arts theater, through a bar door. The theater is beautful.

In the afternoon, when it got a bit cooler, we headed over to Bevagna for the last day of the Mercato delle Gaite, a 10 day historical event that commemorates the daily life of the city between 1250 and 1350.  The townspeople dress up in medieval garb, and compete between the four neighborhoods for the one that best recreates midevil times. Basically it is like going to an authentic Renaissance Faire.

Bavagna is another hill town that we didn't need an excuse to go admire. We had excellent timing to be there during the festival which has been going on since the 1700's.

One of the competitions is in archery. The townspeople booed or cheered when names were called depending on their neighborhood.
This was yet another interesting way to spend an evening, being part of this small comunities eccentric traditions.

Le Infiorate di Spello

Steve, Denise, Fred, and I piled into the car and drove to a nearby hill town called Spello. Spello is an adoreable cobblestone town but we had a very specific reason for going to Spello on this day. Denise's friend Bonnie owns a house here, and is a contributor to their annual flower festival called the Infiorata, when tons of flowers (literally) in every color imaginable are laid down in the streets to create religious works of art. This tradition dates back to 1930.

Bonnie hosted the evening and had a lovely table set up for us with snacks and wine. We planned on volunteering for her piazza (commuity square). Every piazza in Spello competes with each other to win prizes in various categories.

When we first arrived it was too windy to work so we walked around town and enjoyed the scenery, architecture, and excitement.

As we walked through the streets people were working feverishly to remove the different parts of the flower so they could be used in the temporary masterpieces.

People young and old had a part in making this day happen. Each piazza can only work on their flower art until 9 in the morning so as the sun set time was running out.

Figuring out where each color petal should go is no easy task.
After the sun set the wind began to subside enough for flowers to remain in their proper location.

It takes each group hundreds of hours to collect the flowers needed to fill each of these boxes.

Bonnie's piazza had an area that seemed to be in a wind tunnel. That group continued waiting for the wind to stop but Denise and I lent a helping hand to a group down the street. It was so fun to be of assistance on this special day. The following day is the main event, when all the artwork is complete the Bishop arrives to see what has been created.

We worked for an hour and a half. It was well after midnight before we made our way back to the car. The people of Spello will continue working for 9 more hours. On this day sleeping is not a priority. Winning a prize is a big honor, and these people have been planning this since the year prior.

Strolling through Spoleto

I am so glad that we had a reason to come to Spoleto. It is like a movie set here; I swear that I am going to walk into a wall because I am looking everywhere but straight ahead!

The colors of the buildings are subtle and beautiful. This town is so cheerful.

For lunch Denise made us a delicious zuchinni, carrot, walnut lasagna. And of course, there was wine. Steve said it just isn't an Italian lunch without wine.
I love having excuses to drink, I mean obligations involving traditions!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rome to Spoleto

Fred and I left Rome to visit our dear friends Steve and Denise in Spoleto, their hometown-for-the-year. It took us almost an hour and a half to arrive at the Spoleto train station. We had a train picnic consisting of a salmon sandwich, zuchinni 'pizza' and little sushi looking meditarranean cheeses. For 6 euro we ate pretty well. 

Steve and Denise picked us up at the train station and wisked us away to their apartment just inside the walled portion of the city.  The entrance to their apartment is right where Denise is looking.
Denise and I walked to their favorite local baker to buy bread to go with dinner.

 We had an early dinner as we had tickets to see a show at 7pm. We arrived for the first day of the annual Spoleto festival! Steve made a delicious dinner of pasta cheese sacks with chopped zuchinni, wine, and bread. (Thanks Steve!)

The show (about a national military hero named Giuseppe Garibaldi) was located at the Roman theater which was built in the 1st century AD. Virtually impossible to understand and/or follow it was fun to listen to the periodic music, and to be in the ancient theater.

We ended our evening at a newly reopened bar overlooking the city of Spoleto. Spoleto is beautiful.