I Love Touring Italy - Springtime In Basilicata
Basilicata is a little region of southern Italy with a very small coastline on the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west and a slightly larger coastline on the Gulf of Taranto to the east. You won't see too many tourists here, which may be just one more reason to visit this traditional egion. Its weather may be somewhat cooler than you might expect, especially in the early spring.
One major early spring festival is the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) Pageant. A great place to experience this Festival is the small town of Barile, population about 3 thousand, with a substantial Albanian influence due to the origin of many people. As elsewhere, the Stations of the Cross represent the various episodes of the Passion of Christ. You will see authentic reconstructions of the Gospel stories, accompanied by fantasy figures expressing ancestral fears. For example, the "Negro" represents a stranger, and the "Gypsy" is a dark symbol of wealth hiding evil and danger. These are quite major figures of popular collective atonement. You will be impressed by the participants' spirit. Other localities hosting memorable Via Crucis Costumed Parades include Atella on the Thursday before Easter, and on Good Friday Maschito whose ceremony includes both Albanian and Greek aspects, and Venosa. The following day Rionero in Vulture celebrates its pageant, which also has Albanian and Greek aspects.
On May 29 the day preceding the festival of San Gerardo, the patron saint of Potenza, a provincial capital of 70 thousand, the city celebrates the Sfilata dei Turchi (Procession of the Turks). According to legend in the middle of the night Saracen pirates navigated their boats upstream on the Basento River and attacked the city. The defenseless inhabitants were overjoyed when they saw the sky light up and a row of angels appeared, surprising the Saracens and providing them with time to organize their defense. A procession honors Saint Gerardo, the bishop of Potenza, said to have accomplished this miracle.
The small town of Accettura, population about 2500, holds its Sagra del Maggio (May Chopping Festival), perhaps the oldest festival in all Italy. To make a long story short two trees are united in a marriage ceremony, said to guarantee a rich harvest. The male or "Maggio" is a tall oak, the female or "Cima" is the top of a holly tree with a lot of branches. The two are transported around town and then ceremoniously united. You will find similar festivals in many other local towns.
Levi Reiss wrote or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but to tell the truth, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Check out his wine website http://www.theworldwidewine.com with a weekly column reviewing $10 wines and new sections writing about (theory) and tasting (practice) organic and kosher wines.