Thursday, January 7, 2010

Felice Nuovo Anno 2010!

We hear it’s a crisp start to the New Year in the UK.
Pretty cold here, but no snow at the moment, plenty on top of the mountains though. In fact it has been foggy and rainy.

Hope you all had a New Year see-in that suited you. I know we did. A cosy evening “a due”, soft lights, music and then at midnight, Whoooosh! Kerpow! Bang! Fizzle! Pop! Crackle! We have never seen fireworks like the Italians send up. They really are superb.
We went outside, a small glass of Prosecco in hand and just listened to the low bellowing roar of the fireworks going off all around us for kilometres and kilometres in every direction. The sky kept lighting up with enormous rockets, exploding into bright coloured stars. Some of our neighbours had some great displays that we could see quite closely. It was a fantastic half an hour.
Bertie was sort of unsure. He wasn’t exactly frightened by them, but he just kept barking as though saying, ‘I don’t who or what you are, but don’t come any closer or I might have to bark really loudly. So keep your distance’
You can probably tell I am a keen fan of fireworks.
A couple of years ago I insisted that we had some of our own fireworks in the garden. I duly went out and purchased about €25,00s worth for our New Year entertainment. Big mistake.
They were truly awful. Variations on a Roman Candle, and you know how boring they are. I think I had bought about six. Well, after the third, La D turned and said to me, ‘L’uomo Chi Fa, are they all like this?’
‘I’m afraid they are your Duchessness,’ I replied.
‘It’s cold out here, I’m going in and will watch the remainder from the window.’ With that she turned on her heel and went inside. The funny thing was she never appeared at the window. I really couldn’t blame her.
No, if you can’t afford proper fireworks, then don’t buy any, just enjoy the sight and sound of someone else’s very expensive display. The only thing you will miss of course is that lovely aroma that fireworks give off. I admit it is an acquired taste, but €200,00 for twenty minutes of sulphurous smoke is not in the budget.

Presepo or Presepio

Presepo or Presepio literally mean “crib” in English, but here at Christmas time you will signs all over the place for them.
They are actually nativity scenes that local schools, groups or communities put on. Some are simply a room with table upon which sits a nativity model. But some others are enormous outside live events.
We went to one of the best ones around last Sunday. They are usually held around Boxing day, but because the weather was very wet, this one had been postponed. Sunday evening was very cold but clear.
It was set in and around the old amphitheatre or Teatro Romano in Piane di Falerone. We’ve never seen anything like it, fabulous.
There was a walkway past all these scenes with actors of daily life in the time of Jesus’ birth. They used the ruins as well as tents to house people and show the scenes. The event started at 5:30 so it was dark and the whole way was lit with candles and torches. It was quite magical.
There were Roman soldiers and cavalry and even a few charioteers as well with squeaky wheels. The Romans were all in tunic uniforms. We couldn’t see if they had tights on, but if they hadn’t they would have been freezing.
There were “prisoners” locked up and shouting abuse at their gaolers. Some were chipping small mosaic chips off big stones. There were working blacksmiths, making horse shoes; people hand grinding corn into flour; bread makers; basket weavers. Someone had even dammed a small stream and made a temporary fishing pond. Some tents had people sorting wool, others were teaching children, some had fires going and were spit roasting meat. One of the ruins held a religious service, whilst another reproduced the scene of the tax collection – the reason J and M went to Bethlehem in the first place.
The final scene was the actual nativity with J and M and baby Jesus set into a small stone croft. Inside there was also a cow tied up and outside a small donkey was tethered.
Just to put your mind at rest, a real baby was not used, although one of the people we went with told us that last year they went to one where Mary did have a baby with her, but this baby looked alarmingly big to be newborn. In fact if the child was newborn, it was probably going to turn out to be a Goliath character.
It took about an hour and a half to go round. It was extremely well attended particularly with younger people. Brilliant.
Afterwards we retired to a great restaurant nearby and warmed up whilst eating a rather tasty pizza. Yum.

A helping hand.

Just a little thing. This morning I got up at some ridiculous hour to take a friend to Porto san Giorgio railway station. He has bought a car on E-bay but it is down in Cassino, some way south of Naples, and he was training down to collect it and drive it back.
We got to the station and he asked if I would like a coffee. He really didn’t need to ask.
It is a nice station bar. I was looking around and noticed above the bar that there were about 8 clocks all showing the time in places round the world such as new York, London, Moscow, etc., and of course Rome. Guess which clock had stopped? That’s right, Rome! Great coffee though.

Ciao, mantenere la fede

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