Saturday, 4 April 2015

Celebrating Pasqua and Pasquetta in Italy

They celebrate all the Christian (and some Pagan) festivals in carnival style here.  This year we managed to be in Pietrasanta for the Good Friday procession, acting out the whole story of the Crucifixion and Resurrection in spectacular style.  The whole town was involved - either as actors or marshalls or stage setters and everyone else turned out to watch.
The church decked for Easter
The streets were crammed as we followed the action from one location to the next.  This is the stage set for The Last Supper - I was so lost in the crowd by the time the actors got there I couldn't see a thing!

Then the Garden of Gethsemane, tucked away in a corner of the car park.


At the end of the main street a centurion was waiting with his cohorts to arrest Jesus (a very hot looking Italian with beautiful hair which he apparently keeps long for his annual role).

Centurion with Judas Iscariot and soldiers

Behind them the extras, including quite a lot of children, queued to join the procession.


Pontius Pilate waited in the shadows further up the street, ready to do his bit of hand-washing.


Meanwhile I hurried ahead of the crowd to find a good place in the main piazza where I could watch the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.   Jesus entered at the head of the procession, flanked by soldiers, carrying the cross.



The Crucifixion was enacted on the steps of Sant'Agostino and was very moving, even for an aetheist, with Bach's St Matthew Passion playing over the sound system. Jesus was, after all, a political prisoner, considered a terrorist by the Roman conquerors of Palestine, executed for his beliefs and for inciting others to believe. Times don't change much.


Then the small group around the cross took the dead Jesus down and carried him to the tomb on the steps of the Duomo.  On Sunday they will roll back the door and he will emerge in another pageant with pealing bells and joyful music.


Meanwhile we had a hot chocolate and sticky cakes at the local patisserie, Dazzi's, even though it was after midnight, surrounded by chocolate bunnies and eggs, from a completely different tradition.  This is the most beautiful place to live.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, Pasqua, when families will gather for a huge roast lunch involving lamb, though judging from the examples on the supermarket shelves the Sardinian lambs are the size of cats. Then on Monday - Pasquetta - they will all head for the hills equipped with picnics, or meet at the high 'rifugios' on the mountain slopes for gargantuan al fresco lunches and a bit of walking.  Not sure what we are going to do as it's thundering, with lightning and pouring with rain at the moment! Happy Easter everyone - or as they say here - Buona Pasqua!


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