Yesterday, the town was packed with such a clamour and spectacle! Canons firing, all tones and tempi of clanging bells and dressed in fine, ornate costumes representing the various sections of the community, groups of flag-bearing folk, spilling out of the Duomo and onto the wide steps.
The centre-piece was the the lurching and swaying massive sarcophagus of the saint, born aloft on beams, by robust men in white shirts and black trousers…. Such a feat of co-ordination and strength to negotiate the steps and raised a huge cheer from the pressing crowds.
Touchingly, a little boy was lifted momentarily to sit up beside it… perhaps in need of a miracle for the Saint is renowned.
(In the museum above the church away from the town, is a collection of discarded calipers, as evidence of these miracles of healing…..)
I was so happy at last to be in the right place at the right time to see a festival of such character. Many times on my travels, it would seem that I have either been just a day or so late, or early!
I am beginning to prepare for the next steps, which will take me into Greece and then, all being well into Turkey in the late spring. Just one email to a SERVAS member in Greece has already brought me some lovely contacts and encouraging advice about routes and maps etc. so packing and reorganising my kit is going a-pace, along with re-proofing my excellent swishy waterproofs and even, much to everyone’s surprise, a third (amazing in 2500 miles) pumping up of tyres!!
I have become a bit of an Internet-techie and have downloaded some Greek language podcasts, as well some Turkish to get me started. You may be surprised to hear/ read that I find aural memory far harder than visual, so it is a great way to exercise this bit of my brain! ( always a good sight reader, but those awful aural tests in music exams were like jumping into a dark abyss!)
On Wednesday I am looking forward to taking the bus to Catania, where I will be playing and talking to the cycling association, thanks to some busy organizing by Henrike and friends.
This has come about thanks to an earlier concert in Noto, which is very much down to Susan and her genius for networking and making things ‘happen’. Everyone should have a PA like Susan!!
She has such a knack for enabling and supporting in such an unobtrusive way and I have relied on her for all sorts of help with computer stuff to bus timetables, translation, meeting new friends and even what to look out for when foraging for delicious wild asparagus; o and she is just the right person to turn music pages, even though she would say she doesn’t really do this! (I have memories of one person who swayed alarmingly in time with the music and fell off the chair at a crucial moment)…… this is just by way of example…. the list is too long!
More importantly, she and her partner Franco have generously given me the use of their flat for when I am in town and not in solitude mode in the countryside.
A very warm thank you to you both. It has been such a comforting and unforgettable part of the fabric of my stay in Sicily.
Here are few pictures of yesterday’s marvelous procession, my hosts, Susan and Franco, and a very interesting fellow in a wonderful hat, that we met on the beach.