Festa Time is Here Again. Hop on a Charabanc

July and August is Festa time. Most hamlets, villages, towns and cities have a festa in the summer and they range from the extravagant to the very simple. My little hamlet has one in August and ours is dead simple. A few bars are set up a couple of eating places and a dance floor with a band. At the end of it all there is a firework display and then we all go home.

Martina Franca has the festa di San Martino ( who would have guested that )  which is a three day one with a large market during the daytime then shows, dancing and a big funfair as well.It runs this year from the 5th to the 7th of July. For the locals it is the bees knees and eagerly looked forward to. Martina is not the easiest place to either get into nor find a spot to park and over San Martino it is far worse so we give it a miss much to the shock of the locals in the bar who cannot believe that we could ignore the social event of the year.

Tomorrow in Matera it is the big Festa Della Madonna Bruna which Google translates as Mrs Mary Brown’s holiday which is rather nice though quite why we would celebrate dear Mrs Brown’s charabanc trip I’m not sure. You probably know her better as The Virgin Mary.

I know I am getting old when words I used to hear and enjoy start to disappear. My grandmother who lived in Bristol always used the word charabanc though she pronounced it sherrabang as I did. It means a motor coach .

The word can only be from the french char-à-bancs, a carriage with benches in. It is pronounced as sharrer-bank, sharrer-bang or – ooooh, Missus naughty postcard! – sharrer-bonk. Do you remember those postcards ?

naughty postcard

‘What did you want to look up sir?’
Lots of sniggers in the souvenir shop.

So  when on holiday with my grandmother my sister and I always went on a sherrabang to Weston Super Mare for the day. Wow I loved that place.

However sadly it is no more. The word has been declared extinct .This from the Telegraph :

“Somebody at Collins dictionaries has been putting it about that the word charabanc has become extinct. If you ask me, all it has done is to fall like a ripe medlar on to a springy tuffet of grass. There it lies, all for our delight.

It’s hardly news that charabanc is no longer the ordinary word for a “a kind of long and light vehicle with transverse seats looking forward”. In 1989, 25 years ago, the Oxford English Dictionary, whether by design or by accident, adopted the metre of Tennyson’s “Marianna in the Moated Grange” (“With blackest moss the flower-pots / Were thickly crusted, one and all”) to announce that “charabanc, now rarely heard, has been replaced by motor-coach”. But that’s just when it came into its own.

It had never been an entirely comfortable word in English. No one is known to have used it before Byron, and he spelt it wrong, noting on September 18, 1816, in his journal of a ramble to the Alps: “Left Diodati about seven – in one of the country carriages – (a Charaban)”. More than a century later, Jan Morris observed in Oxford a pedantic pluralisation in a notice at the end of New College Lane: “Chars-a-banc prohibited.”

But now that it’s rarely heard we can play with it occasionally, speaking jocularly of taking a charabanc, or chara to the seaside.”

But it is no more I wonder if there are still day trips either there or Bangor


Anyway back to Matera which as most of you will know is where until the middle 1960’s most of the population still lived in caves much to the horror of the politicians in Rome when it was publicised though the people really enjoyed it. When you see the East German stuff they built to house them in afterwards maybe they were right.

The Festa is always July 2nd and a statue of the Virgin Mary is carried around the town on a decorated carriage which is then burnt at days end.

It seems that  in 1500 odd a man on a decorated cart picked up a beautiful young woman who asked to be taken to Matera. At the gates of the city she turned into a statue of The Madonna and then a voice from heaven said to the cart driver . This is how I want to be driven around Matera every year in a beautifully painted carriage and the statue has been every year since.  The carriage is wrecked and burnt because a tyrant ruler promised the citizens that he would pay for the carriage each year and to ensure he kept his word it was burnt at the end of the festival. So now you know.

There is a lot more going on than just the festival, knights joust and there is a market etc.

If you can’t make it here it is though this won’t win any oscars this year for best movie.

Looks quite dangerous doesn’t it? Not a place to be after a few ales.

Think I might sit that one out on my new bench under my tree of idleness.

Bench under tree






About hereinpuglia

Retired to Puglia after some 40 years in the travel industry working for P&O Lines, British Airways, Alamo rent-a-car,Abercrombie&Kent, owner of Quest Tours and Travel and finally with Thomas Cook North America. Married to Geraldine we now have a small house with too much land near the town of Martina Franca in Puglia. Two kids one married and living in Hong Kong and the other single and living in London. No dogs, no cats no animals.
This entry was posted in Expat in Italy, Expat Italy, Italian Living, Puglia, Puglia Beaches, Puglia Food, Puglia Guide, Puglia Lifestyle, Puglia Living, Puglia Travel Information and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s