status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage
In the run-up to the Very Last Festa of the Season (to which barely anyone came because the evenings are now on the chilly side and everyone is a little festered out after all the summer shenanigans) there have been a few evenings of note.
There was the night procession from the village to one of the churches a way up the hill. Despite being dyed-in-the-wool atheists, Pooch and I are always up for a walk and so had every intention of joining the group and hoping that nobody would ask us to recite a Hail Mary or indulge in idle theological chit-chat.
However, once we discovered that this 2km walk would take nearly three hours one way, due to the pauses for prayer and a sing-song at every little shrine along the way; and that even when we reached the top we would then have to sit outside for well over an hour whilst everyone else attended Mass, we decided to give it a miss.
(I promise I didn’t indulge in a single snigger from the warmth of my cosy apartment when the heavens opened and treated the area to the coldest and wettest night it’d had for quite some time)
Then came ‘Musiche della Terra’, the first concert of which was Sufi music from Iran, and which I didn’t make due to matters of a batular nature. The second, however, was a folk group from Hungary which I felt compelled to go and see given my tenuous links to that particular country.
The music was pleasant enough, but the evening was made by the fabulous stories of concerts past, recounted by the bearded leader of the group. He had the entire piazza in stitches with tales of gaining the attention of a distracted public in Marseilles and holding an impromptu jamming session in a Roman bus shelter amongst other such gems.
The following night was the turn of all the local choirs, the most endearing of which was obviously the children’s choir, who sang a selection of the local songs in dialect with their breathlessly youthful voices.
And that brought us up to the Very Last Festa of the Season.
I had even invited friends to the village for what I thought was going to be the event of the year, and then had to rapidly get them squiffy so they wouldn’t notice that we were practically alone in the piazza.
Despite the impoverished turn-out, we still managed to have a wonderful time watching everybody tootling round the dance floor, and even had a twirl ourselves, as we got steadily more plastered on red wine and free vodka/green apple shots that the eager barmen were pressing on my girlfriends.
At the end of the night, the locals gathered to enjoy the wonderful harmonies that this village does so well. Everybody standing together to sing song after unaccompanied song, just as they’ve done for generations.
It is moments like these, moments when the hairs on the back of my arms stand up, that I realise just how lucky I am to have been able to spend so many years indulging my avid stalking of other cultures and customs. Coming from a country that boasts very few, I am drawn to them like a moth to a candle.
Eventually us girls staggered home, pished, happy and ready for bed.
Unfortunately the barmen also staggered home behind us clutching more bottles, and proceeded to keep us up chatting, boozing and singing until nearly 5 o’clock in the morning.
I can’t say we minded terribly much.
This is Status Viatoris, who will miss the party season, especially the part where she tries to teach people the correct moves to YMCA, in Italy.