249 – Christmas and the Living Nativity of the Village of Maranola

Maranola is a small medieval village overlooking the town of Formia on the South Lazio coast. Each Christmas-time the village puts on a wonderful “Living Nativity” known as the “Presepe Vivente“.  Many of the local people take part in this project, and ground floor rooms and cellars undergo a transformation. Here living scenes are created depicting the every day life of days gone by.  Some re-enact former occupations, ancient skills and crafts.

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Many of the townsfolk are dressed in the traditional costmes of the ancient region of Ciociaria. This area takes its name from the word “ciocie“, which is an ancient form of footware, thought to date back to Etruscan times. It was a type of sandal, with a curiously curved toe, that was bound to the calf with leather laces. It was typically worn by the local shepherds and peasants of the area.

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There are also scenes depicting the preparation of typical local produce.

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Over the festive Christmas period Maranola has three editions of this event. These are normally held on the 26th December, New Years Day and on the day of the Epiphany, the 6th January.  Last year we attended the last event.

The sound of the pipes of the zampognieri heralded the arrival of the Three Kings bearing their gifts.

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They all made their way to the stable when the charming Nativity scene was taking place. A local couple with a young baby played the roles of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.

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We really are hoping to visit Maranola again this Christmas. This is a very special local event – not to be missed.

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Well may we take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and Peace and Goodwill to all.

We also wish you all the very best in the coming New Year.

Love from us all at Tre Cancelle

Louie and Paul, the Tre Cancelle “Woof-gang” and our growing menagerie

xxxxxxx

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga’s Beaches and Historic Itri

Discover South Lazio

 

 

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247 – Minturno Festival of the Wheat Harvest and International Folklore Festival

Each summer at the beginning of July  the town of Minturno comes together to celebrate the Festa delle Regne or the Wheat Harvest Festival. This year marked the 63rd edition. The main feast day celebrations are held on the second Sunday of July when thanks are offered to the patron of the town, the Madonna delle Grazie.  Historically monks of the Franciscan order used to bake bread that was then distributed to the poor.

There is a procession throughout the old town where the statue of the Madonna and child is carried on a rustic cart decorated with wheat sheaves, and pulled by a pair of strong oxen.

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There is also a parade of decorated carts and trailers, representing the harvest, that have been submitted by various neighbourhood groups. These are towed up to the main square of Minturno and a prize is generally awarded for the best design. The designs are incredibly intricate and detailed.

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There is a long and colourful parade made up of various groups, these include characters dressed in elegant medieval costumes, sbandieratori or flag throwers and musicians.

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The Associazione Folklorica di Minturno was formed in 1989 to strive to promote and keep alive the town’s popular traditions, culture and musical heritage. From a young age local children are encouraged to learn about their traditional heritage. There are dance classes organised to suit all ages and troupes of dancers are put together.

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Throughout the year the skilled dressmakers of Minturno busy themselves by sewing fine costumes that are typical of this area.

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photo by Melinda Abbott

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photo by Melinda Abbott

The most famous Minturnese costume is called “la Pacchiana”.  This has the characteristic elaborate head-dress made of a starched and folded white linen or muslin cloth, which is edged in lace. There is a white blouse with full puffed sleeves, made of a finely pleated material, which are gathered just above the elbow. The laced bodice is richly embroidered in gold thread, and over this a cream-coloured shawl is worn over the shoulders, once again decorated with gold embroidery.

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The skirt is long and black. At the front a black silk apron is worn, while at the back there is the addition of a special fold of red material known as a “pagnuccia”. The costume wearer is also adorned with abundant gold jewellery and large earrings.  Historically, these ornate costumes would have only been worn on special feast days or at weddings. Often the beautiful treasured costume would be passed down in families from mother to daughter. The men’s clothing typically consists of a black jacket, a white frilled shirt with wide sleeves, knee length trousers, a wide red band tied around the hips, black shoes and bright red stockings.

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At the festival the groups perform numerous traditional dances such as the tarantella and the saltarella.

On the same Sunday evening as the Feast of the Wheat Harvest,  Minturno also hosts an acclaimed International Folklore Festival. This welcomes other dance troupes from around the world to share their cultural heritage and traditions. This year there were colourful performances by groups from Chile, Mexico, Macedonia and Maldova.

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In this cultural exchange dancers, singers and musicians from all around the world can meet up and share their traditional cultural heritage and ethnicity in an atmosphere of warmth, friendship, peace and harmony.

All photos are by me © Louise Shapcott (except those by Melinda Abbott above)

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments Near Sperlonga’s Beaches and Historic Itri

Discover South Lazio

244 – Atina Feast of Corpus Domini

The feast of Corpus Domini falls on the 9th Sunday following Easter. This festival is a real cultural community event where local people come together to create colourful decorative carpets to adorn the streets and squares of Atina. These designs are made using brightly coloured wood chippings and flowers.

A metal template is used to form the designs.

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Piazza Marconi, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and the Bishops Palace.

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Several special altars are set up in various neighbourhood along the route of the planned procession, the main one being sited in the doorway of the old cathedral.

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Also, along the way, apartment dwellers drape silk banners and beautiful lace trimmed linens from their windows and balconies.

For the solemn religious procession of the blessed sacrament, the parish priest wears an ornately embroidered wrap around  his shoulders. This he then uses this to hold the “monstrance” displaying the holy consecrated sacrament of the host which represents the blessed body of Christ.  Four proud staff bearers support a decorative canopy aloft, flanked by several dignitaries and cassocked youths carrying a crucifix and lanterns. The town band follows behind and many townsfolk join in the religious parade along the way. The procession slowly winds its way through various quarters of Atina.  At each of the special altars the priest offers prayers and blesses each of the districts.

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When the procession arrives back to the piazza in front of the old cathedral, more prayers are offered and then the cathedral bells begin to joyfully ring out.  Finally a Benediction takes place in the cathedral to conclude the day’s celebrations.

All photos are by me © Louise Shapcott

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments Near Sperlonga and Itri

241 – Christmas Greetings 2016

Well as you can see we have had a busy full-on year here at Tre Cancelle.

We have welcomed guests from all around the world and have had many happy guests, and we’ve received some kind reviews on TripAdvisor

We’ve had the pleasure of meeting some really lovely people, sharing special times with family, friends and visitors, visiting some really beautiful places and enjoying the peace and tranquility of Tre Cancelle.

We are so lucky and we have so much to be grateful for.

Here are some photos of the Christmas decorations in the nearby seaside town of Gaeta.

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Wishing you, one and all, Peace and Joy this Christmas

and also wishing you all the very best during the year ahead.

Ciao for now !!!

Louise and Paul

xxxxxxx

227 – Visit to Pastena

At the end of April we welcomed two lovely ladies, Lissa and Debra, from the USA.  This was to be their first trip to this area of Italy and Lissa was keen to visit her ancestral home of her family, namely Pastena.  Pastena is a small but picturesque medieval village which is in the province of Frosinone and belongs to the ancient region of Ciociaria.

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As Lissa and Debra didn’t have a car we offered to drive them to Pastena, which is along an interesting route, passing through Fondi and then heading inland towards Lenola and beyond. Finally we reached the verdant plain of Pastena surrounded by  hills and mountains. Here the soil is rich and fertile thus agriculture has always been the mainstay of the economy in these parts.

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As we approached Pastena we saw a hill which at its peak has modern sculptures representing the patron saints of the town, Sant’Elena and San Sinforo.

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Lissa first wanted to call in at Pastena’s Register Office or Anagrafe in the Town Hall.

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We were received by the registrar who seemed to be rather flustered and busy, and he insisted that he did not have time to look through the records to try and find out more about Lissa’s ancestors. However he did take details from her and promised to look for them during the next few days.  Feeling slightly deflated we went for a stroll around the old town.

Close to the Town Hall is a museum – “Il Museo della Civiltà Contadina e dell’Ulivo” or Museum of Country Life and Olive Cultivation.This is  housed in a palazzo which was once the home and an ancient olive m of the Trani family.  Among the interesting exhibits are the original old mill-stone and press, tools related to olive farming, tilling the soil, animal husbandry, wine making, cheese making, basket making, spinning and weaving of linen.  Also there are examples of traditional clothes, musical instruments and general domestic items of everyday Pastena life in times gone by.

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Lissa also wanted the visit Pastena’s cemetery which was situated a little way out of town. She was hoping to find some of her ancestors’ graves.

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We went back into Pastena to wander through the characteristic Medieval centre. At the highest point of the village is the main square and the church of Santa Maria Maggiore. On the facade are two niches which house images of the patron saints of the town.

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We noticed that there were festive lights mounted throughout the town. We learned that the following day was the Feast of “Il Maggio” or “la Festa del’Albero della Cuccagna” -a festival to celebrate the coming of Spring.  We soon made plans to return the following day, with our friends Pat and Melinda, to see the celebrations for ourselves.

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On the 15th April the local men go out into the woods to choose the best tall straight cypress tree. Once this has been selected a cross is carved out of the bark mark it.  At sunrise on the morning of 30th April many of the local men folk will gather around the chosen tree for a traditional ceremony where the parish priest recites prayers.  The master of ceremonies takes the axe and makes the first cuts into the tree, in the presence of the calf, with each of the participants taking their turn to wield the axe. The actual felling of the tree is marked by gun shots and a drum roll. The tree is then cleaned of the bark and branches etc.

There follows a ritual “funeral” procession for “the tree of sacrifice” that has been taken from the “sacred forest”.  Slowly but surely it is hauled up to the village with the help of a numerous pairs of strong oxen, lead by the sacred calf.

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During the long procession loud firework were periodically set off, and  unnervingly groups of hunters shot rounds from their rifles and shotguns into the air.

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We then walked uphill back towards the town. As we entered the square in front of the town hall we were spotted by the register who eagerly tried to flag us down.  He told Lissa he had looked in the registers and had found several more generations of Lissa’s family. He lead us into his office where he handed over the paperwork.  Lissa was happy and we were so pleased for her.  We took a photo of the Registrar, Lissa and Debra to remember this very special day.

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Debra and Lissa

A little more about the “Il Maggio” festivities ….

On the 1st May the tree is cleaned in the main square, in front of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore.  The top of the tall tree trunk is adorned with May flowers of broom.  A hole is prepared and then the men work together using ropes to gradually winch the tree trunk into an upright position.

On the 3rd May, on the feast day of the Santissima Santa Croce, when the statue of Sant’ Elena on her throne is taken from the church and carried around all the districts of the town followed by a solemn procession.

Typically the womenfolk  have previously prepared a type of sweet bread / doughnut in the shape of a decorated ring called a Ciambellone, these are carried during the procession as a symbol of religious devotion.  The procession is accompanied by ceremonial gunfire.

Later in the day the tree trunk is raised into position in the main square, having been covered in grease. This is known as the “albero della cuccagna”. Then there is a competition amongst the young men of the village, when they attempt to scale the slippery pole. At the top there are prizes for the successful climbers. In the evening there are more celebrations of musical entertainment and fireworks.

The tree trunk remains in place in the square until September, when it is cut down and distributed as firewood to the local inhabitants of Pastena.

All  photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#pastena #festival #ilmaggio #familyhistory #spring #italy

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga / Itri, South Lazio, Italy

209 – Minturno – La Sagra delle Regne and International Folklore Festival

La Sagra delle Regne is a religious festival dedicated to the Madonna delle Grazie, the patron of the old medieval town of Minturno. It takes place every year on the second Sunday in July. 

Our American friends, Pat and Melinda, very kindly invited us to spend the afternoon and evening with them, so that we could see the festival for ourselves.  They have purchased an apartment in Minturno and have now left their old life back behind in Ohio, and begun their adventure of living in Italy. 

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Melinda, Pat and Paul

Pat and Melinda had very kindly had the foresight to reserve a table at their local bar, which was located directly  in front of the event’s main stage. It proved to be an excellent viewpoint.  Of course I had my trusty camera with me !!!  I was hoping to capture some good shots of this colourful event.

The term “regne” has Latin origins, meaning bundles or sheaves of wheat.  The festival had pagan origins. Local farmers would beseech the Roman Gods of the earth to protect the wheat harvest and bless the fruits of their labours. During the Middle Ages the festival became a Christian one, in which the Madonna delle Grazie was entreated to grant local families, farmers and fishermen success in their personal endeavours.

In Minturno’s main square stands the 14th century stone church dedicated to San Francesco.  Inside there is a side altar with a beautiful fresco depicting the Madonna delle Grazie.

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As the festival began to get under way we watched decorated carts being transported to the centre of the village, some were horse-drawn, others were towed by tractor.

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photo © Melinda Abbott

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In the evening Minturno hosted the Festivale Internationale del Folklore.

We watched an impressive performance by a band of sbandieratori or flag wavers / throwers, an ancient Medieval tradition.

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Many local people, both young and old, were dressed in the typical costumes of this region.   There seems to be so much passion, diligence and pride in trying to preserve the old traditional ways.

Everyone gathers in the main square to see the wheat being threshed manually by the “vigilatori”. 

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There were numerous performances by local dance groups

and musicians from Minturno.

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At this year’s 2015 festival Minturno welcomed colourful dance troupes from

Mexico, Panama and Poland.

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The evening’s entertainment culminated

in the castle being seemingly set alight.

We retired back to Pat and Melinda’s apartment where we sat on their wonderful roof terrace.  Here we were able to sit and relax, and enjoy the cooler night air whilst watching the festa’s grand finale  – a colourful firework display.

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Thanks to Pat and Melinda for a wonderful evening.

All photos (except were indicated) by me © Louise Shapcott

#minturno #italy #festival #festa #sagra #FolkDancing #SagraDelleRegne #WheatHarvest #tradition #culture

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Just recently I have been updating my Minturno web pages.

Minturno has a fascinating history and it is so interesting to wander around the old Medieval town.

You can read more about Minturno and see more photographs here at my website:  

http://minturno.shapcott-family.com/

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga and Itri, South Lazio

204 – Itri’s June 2015 Infiorata

Each June to celebrate the Sunday of Corpus Domini, held on the 9th Sunday after Easter, Itri stages a wonderful festival of flowers, known as The “Infiorata”. This was to be the 29th edition of this community event and people young and old gather to work on the various designs.  

Our American friends Pat and Melinda were keen to take part, so a day or so before the actual event we turned up in Itri, in a side alley off Via Della Repubblica,  each armed with a pair of scissors.

We were warmly greeted and allocated some chairs and we set to work. There were bucketfuls and bucketfuls of carnations of various colours. 

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The first task was to snap off the flower heads from their stems and collect them into crates. All the remainder of the greenery was set aside to later be put through a shredder machine.

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Pat and Melinda

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These lovely French ladies travel to Itri every year just to take part in the Infiorata.

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When all the flower heads were detached, the next job was to snip off the petals just above the green base of the flower. The fresh confetti of petals were collected into crates, the bases were thrown into another basket for later use.  Nothing of the flowers is put to waste.

There were people of all ages and walks of life helping with the preparation of the flower petals. There were children with their mothers, grandmothers with their grandchildren, pensioners, school children, teenagers, all were happy to lend a helping hand.

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PM10440722_10207085063068434_8798950205324739827_nOn the Sunday morning we travelled down to Itri to see people working on the creations.  Each design measures 4 x 7 metres.  This  is at truly amazing type of street art, a Floral carpet flower petals that only lasts for one single day.  Some of the designs are very elaborate. This year they followed a modern theme.

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K11427188_10152958666998963_5690021273640806369_nIn the afternoon, after Sunday lunch,

people flock to admire the completed designs.

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The ceremonial altar and a design of La Madonna della Civitá –

the Patron of Itri.

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K11407153_10152958667023963_6732031142755339241_nAfter the religious procession has wound its way through all of the districts of the town, the Priest, carrying the holy sacraments walks over the tapestry of flowers.

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It was very satisfying to know that we had played a small part in this wonderful community event.

Photos by me – Louise, Kay McRobbie, and Patrick and Melinda Abbott

#itri #infiorata #SouthLazio #italy #flower #festival #CorpusDomini

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You might also like to take a look at some of my past posts relating to the Itri Infiorata:

162 – Preparations For Itri’s June 2013 Infiorata

163 – The Completed Designs of Itri’s June 2013 Infiorata

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy

201 – Celebrating Pasquetta With Friends

Our friends  Pauline and Filippo, who have a house in the Migliorano district of Itri, kindly invited us to their home on Easter Monday. You may remember that we were invited there for the family feast of Ferragosto last August.

As usual Filippo’s family were also coming from the nearby coastal town of Formia, where Filippo was born and bred.  I explained that we had our special friends the White family staying with us over the Easter period. Pauline just said “the more the merrier!”  Also a new acquaintance was invited to also come along – Frank from California in the USA. (I will add more about Frank on a future blog post.)

We arrived at around Noon and we were warmly greeted by all of Pauline and Filippo’s family.

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Frank, Andrew and Bethan

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Andrew, Bethan and Jenny White

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Bethan, Jenny and Pauline

The weather had turned unseasonably chilly this Easter in Italy.

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We were told that we would be eating inside where there was a welcoming fire in the grate.

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Typically the Italian women folk were already busy in the kitchen which was full of tantalising delicious aromas.

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A rich sugo with clams and tomato was simmering on the hob and the pasta was almost ready to serve. There would be 17 of us sitting around the table !!!

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The clam sauce was absolutely delicious.  Next some typical tiella pies were served with various fillings.  There were also omelettes and some special savory Easter breads with eggs baked in them and flavoured with cheese and pancetta. In addition there was grilled chicken, some greens – namely scarola and broccoletti tossed in garlic and olive oil,  and of course, Filippo’s wonderful roasted peppers.

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Tiella

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Wild Asparagus Frittata

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Roasted Peppers

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This was followed by grilled fish.

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Fragolini

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For dessert there were several homemade Pastiera Napoletana cakes, made with ricotta cheese. Just wonderful.

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Photo *

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Salute – Cin Cin !!!

Here is Filippo’s mother who has recently celebrated her 90th birthday.

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Sincere thanks  to all of Pauline and Filippo’s family for inviting us and our friends to share their Easter celebration with us.

* photo by Mattia Luigi Nappi   cc By-Sa 3.0

All other photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#pasquetta #easter #food #itri #italy #italian #SouthLazio

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy

193 – 2014 Gathering of the “We Love Atina” Group – La Festa di San Marco

Some members of the “We Love Atina Group” stayed on for a couple more days to see for themselves the Feast of San Marco, the patron saint of Atina. Marco Galileo is said to have been an apostle of St Peter and was persecuted and martyred for his Christian faith in Atina, during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian.

Once again we  met up at the café next to the Arco in Piazza Garibaldi.

We Love Atina Group Atina Frosinone Italy

Trevor & Brigida Varley, Gina & Enrico Battaglia and Paul

On this occasion we had the pleasure of meeting Lorraine Tambourine and her husband Billy, who are both from Scotland. They are frequent visitors of Atina.

Tamburrini We Love Atina Group Atina Frosinone Italy

Festivities were just starting to get underway. There was a brass band playing across the square by the Convent of San Francesco.

Band at the Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

I went up to the church and peaked inside where the ceremony was still taking place.

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San Marco in the Cathedral of Atina Frosinone Italy

There was San Marco in all his glory.

Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

By this time darkness had fallen and I wandered through the streets

admiring the illuminations.

Lights for the Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

Illumunations for Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

New Fountain Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

The New Fountian

New Fountain Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

Billy and Lorraine

New Fountain Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

Illuminations for Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

Cathedral of Atina Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

The Cattedral of Santa Maria Assunta and Bandstand

Cathedral of Atina Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

After the church service there was the procession

throughout the streets of Bella Atina.

Procession of Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

Procession of Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

Feast of San Marco of Atina Frosinone Italy

The festivities continue into the night

when at midnight there is a grand firework display.

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

My Atina Website:  http://atinaitaly.com

#atinaitaly #atinafrosinone #feastday #feast #sanmarco #santamariaassunta #cathedral #cattedrale

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy