La Festa

The area around us is dotted with small churches. Most are in disrepair and abandoned, some still have some religious symbols in them and are always open whilst a very few still operate as churches. They are like country churches in the UK these days. The services are held occasionally rather than each Sunday and the priest moves around the area conducting services.

Most of those that are working serve a small community  that we would call an hamlet. However each one every year holds a festa and locals as well as people from the adjoining area come to enjoy them.

the Small Church

Since the crisis and huge recession ( Italy slipped back into recession in the last quarter again ) several have stopped and it is really noticeable this August how few firework displays we hear from our house. compared to a few years ago.

Our own here has been reduced from two days to one day and instead of two big ( for Puglia) stars as well as a band we have been reduced to one star and music from a sound system to dance to. However, thanks to the continued generosity of the local haulage company that operates just up the road and is owned by a wealthy family who own half the land in the area the fireworks are still reputed to be the best in that area.

The festa was last night and I got off my deathbed to go see it. The crowds were nothing like a few years ago and everything seemed half the size but it was still fun.

The star was one Aurelio Derosa . This is him on the local TV station

Following young Aurellio we had dancing. Now for some of the time people just shuffle around while the music plays but  every now and again they announce a local dance song and the ” experts ” take to the floor and everyone else backs away. Of the “experts” who are mostly elderly locals some are clearly in the Fred Astaire/ Ginger Rodgers class or at least they think so and take to the floor a bit like the Joan Grenfell song Stately as a Galleon She sailed Across the Floor.

I believe there are now dance classes in Martina franca where you can learn these old dances.

The Dance

Of course once you have swung a wicked hip you build a thirst and so just down the road from the dance floor ( literally) there is a makeshift bar.

The Bar

But if you are hungry after your exertions there is is also a mobile food stall.

The Food

They cook on these huge skewers over wood not charcoal and then keep them warm on the top rack as you see here till the customer buys one and then they stick the meat into huge freshly baked bread. The posh ones have a motor attached that rotates the skewers while they cook but these guys aren’t there yet and have to do it all by hand. Hot work even in the evening in the middle of August especially as the guy in charge in the red shirt plus the two other brothers all believe they run the place. we watched last night while one guy took them all off the heat onto the upper rack and then wandered off to his water bottle and then another brother came looked at them and put them all back. Off he went and the red shirt stuck them back on the rack. Italy at work perhaps !!! But most certainly a microcosm of local government in action here.

Anyway the highlight of the night with due deference to Aurilio is always the fireworks that starts on the dot at 11 p.m ( Italian time) or 11.25 our time.

The Bangs

I have never managed to take photos of fireworks as by the time I have gone oh and aw and then pressed the shutter all I get is dark screen. so I’m afraid you will have to make do with one. However they were again superb lasting almost 20 minutes.

Years ago at a conference on Lake Maggiore in the north we were treated to a firework display on the final night ( it was paid for by the EU who were keen to promote regional airlines to fly  to the Regions rather than to established hubs so no expense as you can imagine was spared). However I can honestly say that each year these one are better than that one though maybe the setting isn’t quite as nice !!

Oh and that Joyce Grenfell song ? Well this is it.

I am getting over the shingles now with another two days of horse tablets to go. Hopefully by the end of the week I will be back in business so the Doc reckons.



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.
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