L'Italo-Americano

italoamericano-digital-3-22-2018

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THURSDAY, MARCH 22, 2018 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 T he coming of Spring and Easter offers a double opportunity, ideal climate and a perfect occasion, to take a brief break in Italy. Not simply because Holy Week celebrations, beside their religious significance, let us take a dive into Italian popular culture and folklore, but also because the weather allows to experience that passage from a season to another that is at the centre of so many symbols and tradition of this period of the year. When nature awakens, we can leave behind our urban dimension with a walk in the countryside to witness the first almond trees blossoming, to breath in the fragrance of mimosas in the air, to get the scent of damp earth after the rain. We need very little to put aside our daily routine and to notice nature's own cycle is taking over the Winter. And us, too. A short stroll to take in the relaxing landscapes of Umbria and Tuscany, a walk with the regenerating view of the mountains, just an hour away from Milan airport, or a road trip along the coast -rigorously with the car windows down - from Liguria to Sicily, Puglia to Friuli, to take in our sea's salty air. A real cure-all: the regeneration of nature got us, without we even noticed it. And if we choose the right destination, we'll have the opportunity to live a time when inner regeneration is celebrated also by every community, because the religious feasts of Lent and Easter, beside being mirror of people's Faith, are also strongly socially oriented, symbol of belonging to a specific area, of its history, of its traditional patrimony. In other words, they are an occasion to surround ourselves with events whose origins often go beyond religion, deep into the mists of time and farming culture, where Italy's contemporary society finds its roots. Indeed, there are rituals that taste more like the Middle Ages than the present, processions and reenactments animating churches where we can find artistic marvels and masterpieces that made the history itself of Italian art and architecture. There are Via Crucis sneaking solemnly their way through streets and alleys, all dressed up for the occasion, sometimes even at night, and villages transformed in Presepi - as it happens in Cantiano delle Marche - to show hidden corners of local beauty. Just to give you an example, in Emilia Romagna we have the The regeneration that gifts a Spring voyage through Italy From the director Frassinoro Via Crucis, where the inhabitants of this little hamlet near Modena create living canvas representing the stages of the Passion, a tradition that comes straight from the times of the Counter Reformation. In Marsala, in the Trapani province, a mesmerizing procession takes place on Holy Thursday, with beautiful paintings from the 17th century at the centre of it. These events are filled with emotional, touching moments also for those who do not share the beliefs of the people who silently follow Christ Dead with the "piangenti," surrounded by faithfuls interpreting the Virgin Mary wearing her mourning dress and among wooden statues and devotional acts that almost seem not to belong in the era of smartphones and internet. In Taranto, city of Puglia, you'll find the Processione dei Perdùne, the pilgrims who used to travel to Rome for the Jubilee. Their heads are covered by a hood and they march in their bare feet before passing the torch to the Processione dell'Addolorata, its rhythm dictated by the "troccolante," a wooden tablet with iron teeth: it takes ten hours to the procession to walk through the four kilometers of its itinerary. And so it goes, until the early morning of Holy Saturday, almost 40 hours of walking in prayer. In Calitri, Campania, the members of the Arciconfraternita dell'Immacolata Concezione dress in white, wear a hood, a crown of thorns and carry on their shoulders a cross, up to the top of a hill they call the Golgotha. The ritual dates back to the First Crusade when, the story goes, a knight brought back a piece of the Cross from the Holy Land. Let's go back even further in time and we'll find a procession in Chieti, Abruzzo, whose roots reach the year 842, or that of the medieval town of Orte, in Lazio, where the silence of a traditional night time rite is broken only by the noise made by the grinding on the ground of the heavy chains tied to the naked feet of the "cirenei," bent under the weight of their own crosses, carried for the expiation of sins. It is hard to resist to the profoundly suggestive atmosphere or, indeed, to remain indifferent to the physical pain of the "Battenti o Fujenti" of the Benevento area, who flog their legs and chest until they bleed, in incredibly intense moments of immense theatrical power among cries, screams and people fainting. And it is just as hard to remain indifferent in front of the magnificence of the rituals of Sicily or Sardinia where, in Iglesias, a grandiose funeral procession with baroque origins takes place, or not to be captured by funeral marches, with their deep, hypnotizing beat that make our chest vibrate from within. All this leads to Easter Sunday, when having breakfast with chocolate eggs seems to be much more than a sweet Italian surprise. Simone Schiavinato, Director NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS

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