So much is happening in the world of Italy in the month of April and May. I will be there in May working on a remodeling project, vacationing and taking notes. Not knowing when my work and my play stop and start, I am considering myself very lucky. While I am there, I will take a three-day trip to Assisi, in Umbria to enjoy the Saint Francis festival, the “Calendimaggio”. I have seen this celebration some years ago, before blogging existed. It is an unforgettable historic folklorist event and now I have the opportunity to spread the word.
“Calendimaggio” Festival happens every year on the first Thursday, Friday and Saturday of May to inaugurate the arrival of spring and greeting the rebirth of life after winter hibernation. During the centuries many northern European cultures have celebrated the arrival of spring with flowers and colors.
The Celts had two seasons in a year, the dark and the light season; the effect of spring did not come until the beginning of May. The Romans during the “Floralia” celebrated Maia and Flora, two goddesses of spring. Groups of young “Gaudentes” decorated with flowers from head to toes, sang, danced and charmed the people in the streets with their serenades.
During the Middle Age the newly adopted Gregorian calendar changed the name of the spring celebration to “Kalende di Maggio” (Calendar of May), but the objective was the same: to propitiate the abundance and good fortune at the beginning of the season’s transformation, when trees bloom and start producing fruits. This transformation of nature is the fundamental base of a better life. Good food means good health, which in turn means better spiritual life. Banquets, bonfires, songs and dances at the top of the hill celebrated the season transformation, while the so-called “honorable” citizens erupted in horseback fights.
During the course of European history, bitter and hard conflicts between various factions were the reason for creating Saints, symbols and flags, Assisi’s history is no different. Today, the show of the skilled flag wavers is magnetic. The colors of the flags are blue for secular authority and red for pontifical authority, both temporal and religious powers dominating the Middle Age.
The spring celebration, a pagan custom, happens simultaneously with the religious celebration of Saint Francis, the patron of Italy. Young Francesco (Francis) renounced his noble and rich heritage, adopted a simple brown robe with a rope in the waist as his dress code and served as the “poor of God” looking after the poor and sick people, spreading the Word of God.
The beginning of the spring season today is celebrated much the same way with love songs, choral music and street dances accompanied by violins, guitars and lutes. There are competitions, games and events, without the bloodshed of the old Middle Age. Medieval processions and torch-lit parades will recapture the old charm.
The festival leads to the prestigious “Palio” with two districts of the town of Assisi competing against each other for a valuable prize. The districts are the ‘Magnifica Parte de Sotto and the ‘Nobilissima Parte de Sopra’, meaning the Low and High Districts of Assisi. All of this fun and re-enactment of history happens while the aroma of the traditional porchetta and roast-suckling pig fills the air of the entire town.
Starting next September, I will organize theme trips to Italy with the names of my three books. My goal is to offer an unusual travel experience and show Italy with my eyes, as the local born there. The participants to my trip will experience a kaleidoscope of colors, will learn and see everyday Italy, not the tourist traps and will experience the art of living as a state of mind and not a chore.
Package #1 – A Return To Simplicity.
Package #2 – A Voyage Into The Sins Of A Queen.
Package #3 – Red A Voyage Into Colors.
I will talk more about the program, as I am defining each package with my connections in Italy. My goal is to offer the experience of a life-time, glamour, pampering, entertainment, gorgeous food cooked by the best hands, wine tasting, curious shopping and sightseeing with the locals. When the participants will be picked up at Bari’s airport their dream will start unfolding.
Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
Valentina Cirasola is a trained Italian Interior Designer in business since 1990. Being Italian born and raised, Valentina’s design work has been influenced by Classicism and stylish, timeless designs. She will create your everyday living with a certain luxury without taking away your comfort. She focuses on home remodeling and restoring old homes, or historic dwellings. She is also interested in studies of food in history and historical events. She is the author of two Italian regional cuisine books on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles: http://tiny.cc/pkoo0 and the author of the forthcoming book on colors: RED-A Voyage Into Colors, due to be released very soon.