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Molise Summer


It is hard to know where to start to describe this Summer in Molise.
I moved here in late July last year, so did not appreciate just what the region had to offer.

However this year I have embraced it fully, spending my time trotting round to as many festivals as I could fit in.

I have still missed a lot, and am determined now to keep a calendar so I get to see even more next year.

In July, the small village of Lucito, where I live held a small event to announce the opening of their Agricultural Museum. 

An interesting innovation, the tiny museum is tucked away at the top of the village, and not easy to find but it is well worth the trip.
 It houses a selection of tools and artefacts from the local area, which is almost exclusively made up of small holdings.

Now sadly many of the local people who have managed to farm the land industriously for many years are getting too old, and most of the younger generation seem reluctant to follow in their footsteps.

One of the benefits of living here in Molise is that every demands a party, and it certainly is something that is really done in style. Therefore the inauguration of the museum provided just that.

A marvellous puppeteer from Rome called Davide Rausa. He is absolutely brilliant and creates a range of fascinating characters with his FEET.


Of course, this was only the start of the summer, as from July it began to swing into gear.

Events too like the Literary Festival in Castelbottacico which I wrote at length about before.

http://molisematters.blogspot.it/2017/08/molise-merely-women.htm
http://molisematters.blogspot.it/2017/08/molise-merely-women.html

MOVING ON.........


In late July I went along to a small festival at centre for refugees in the village of Cascalenda. It began with a little production of The Wizard of Oz with local children, then continued with a brilliant lively African band from Rome.

The highlights of the evening were seeing people dance and laugh together regardless of their race or colour.

A little girl of about three danced rhythmically to the music, with natural ease and confidence.


Music in the soul, just let it run through your veins.

Lucito ....Statues march on....




Every year in Italy to celebrate the religious festivals statues are marched around the streets of the small towns and villages in the region.

The importance of lugging heavy plaster statues around are not of course merely Italian.

There is usually a band too, trotting along trumpets and trombones add melody to the marches.

Each religious festival celebrates the saint of the local village, and are important in continuing its history. 
Molise has so must to say, and it is a privilege to live in an area where it is so important, but now things are changing, but here it is still refusing to acknowledge the change.
A good thing ? or a bad thing.. or a double edged sword?


 The tortoise is racing with the hare just like in the  Aesop's fable. 
Molise's are meandering on like the tortoise, refusing to allow themselves to be beaten by the march of time.

There were many festivals I missed this year too like the Festival of Wheat at Jelsi, but I am certainly planning to go next year.
http://www.festadelgranojelsi.it/

Earlier in the year, I went to a festival in another village in Santa Croce di Magliano as  I was invited along by Nicolangelo Licursi.

 The festival which was incredible but I have still not written about it in depth to celebrate their patron saint  - St James. They too parade their animals through the streets in style.

Traditionally cows milk is made into a white stringy cheese, which is formed into a curd cheese which is then, pulled into long pieces before being finally plaited into metre long braids about 20 cm wide.

.
This account on the village website does it a great deal of justice, so well done to those who wrote it. http://www.santacroceonline.com/infoSito/English/index.htm

And I have to say it is rare to see such a good translation on any tourist information site,..
 so well done Santa Croce

To run a festival like that is hard work, not least for the farmers who take part. They bring their cows, sheep, goats and to town, then parade them through the streets.

 It was truly amazing sight, which I felt greatly privileged been asked to see. 

The animals march past the church, where they are blessed by the priest. All seemed suitably impressed whether they were tiny hamsters in cages, huge ungainly cows, or smartly prancing horses.

Even Noah's Ark was there.... and the highlight was when the doves flew free into the sky


Molise's pride and joy.........

In July and August, there are festivals every week. 

Every village and town in Molise celebrates Summer in its own unique way.

I am English, used to sedate village fetes, car boot sales, and occasional more raucous celebrations.
Pubs are the centre of a lot of events in the UK, and there is not a lot different as every occasion demands a lot of eating and drinking.

There is a lot less alcohol consumed than at the average festival in the UK, but that, of course, is no bad thing. Everyone seems to enjoy themselves regardless.

In Molise there is no doubt that their pride and joy is their 

FOOD.......

It plays a great part in any festival from one end of the region to the other. 

Although I am not really a FOODIE, I am beginning to take a new interest in food here.

Every festival whatever the reason offers local specialities of one sort or another.

THE HUMBLE BEAN

Although it was back in March, so not really a summer festival it is worthy of a mention as the first of the local dishes I was introduced to this year.

The FAVA BEAN is served to celebrate the festival of St Joseph. 
Part of the reason for this is because he was a simple carpenter, and serving beans to celebrate his life represents simplicity.

CHEEKY

Another dish served at festivals here is pig or calves cheeks. They are sliced, chopped and served with lemon juice. 

In Molise it is called MUSO di Miale (Pig) or Vitello (Veal)
And I have just learnt it is called MUSS in the Neapolitan dialect. 

That reminds me of the English slang word MUSH ... a word describing the face. The origins of language are fascinating.

I tried it out at a beautiful festival in Bojano this summer. 
I have to admit as I am not really a meat lover it was not my kind of thing, but a lot of people seem to enjoy it, judging by the number tucking into small trays of it bought from the market traders.
The festival in  Bojano was vibrant, with music in every corner of the piazza, and a large street market.

The name chosen was "Friends Festival" which was not translated into Italian anywhere. I wonder how many people who went along to the festival realised the significance of the word friends.Futuro Molise
The Bojano festival boasted an exdorinary light show which lit the whole of the town centre. It was really quite remarkable. In England, the famous Blackpool illuminations would have seemed dull in contrast.


Bands played in every corner of the large piazza, and people danced along to the music.

A dancer with a very talented folk group spun round effortlessly performing a traditional Southern Italian called the TARANTELLA

 According to legend if you are bitten by the Tarantula Spider, you become subject to a type of fit, However, if you are able to dance the frenzied whirling dance, you survive. The idea is that in doing so you sweat out the venom and survive.

The dance is now often performed at festivals, where a lot of people of all ages join in.

This summer I saw people dancing this energetic rhythmic dance in festivals from one end of Molise to the other.

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Thankfully there are no Tarantula spiders in Molise anyway, but many still enjoy the dance and why not.

MORE THAN A KEBAB.....

I could not write about festival food without mentioning the highly acclaimed 

ARROSTICINI 

These are pieces of lamb on a wooden skewer  barbequed over charcoal, often on a specially designed grill. Image result for arrosticini

As there is a grat deal of lamb in the region it is a very popular dish, one which everyone tucks into with relish...Image result for arrosticini

Served only with chips, they are devoured in great quantities at every festival.

FLAMING CASTLE

The festival on August 15th,  is usually the biggest event in the summer calendar,  and although in Molise this summer a great many festivals were exceptionally exciting the Fireworks in Termoli were some of the best I have ever seen. 

Even displays in cities like London almost paled in comparison.

Termoli put it's hand deep into its coffers to pay for the event I am sure, and some may feel the money would have been better spent on mending the broken pavements or the schools. 

But hey, it's summer and you only live once.
















 Termoli's festival also boasted some other interesting and tasty foods including Corn on the cob, and Fried Calamari or Squid.
There is certainly no need to go hungry here.

 The village called COOKED GOAT .. CAPRACOTTA

Not a very appealing name for a village when it is translated, but don't let that put you off.
Capracotta is beautiful. It sits nestled in the mountains on the very edge of Molise, and is a popular both in summer for walkers and the winter for skiers.

This summer they hosted several festivals but I only managed to get to one, actually one of its smallest, but it was quite unique and very friendly.

The entertainment was a fun and vibrant trio of circus performers, which culminated in a stunning balancing act by an extremely accomplished and talented woman.


 
With music that followed on small accordion people here also danced the Tarantella.

THE DARK SIDE



The highlight of the festival was the moment when balloons with a tiny light inside them were launched in unison from the parapet high above the valley.

They floated off into the sooty black sky like a hundred tiny fireflies drifting and dancing in the air, before disappearing in the distance as tiny specks of colour.

Thank you Capracotta - it really was so simple but quite remarkable.

STRAW and a whole lot more.....

 Small villages like Castelbottacio, close to my home constructed a theatre of straw for some impromptu theatre.
They also hosted a film night as well as a literary festival I have written about before, which was dedicated to a remarkable woman from the 1500s who lived in the village

Donna Olimpia Frangipane ..Image result for donna castelbottaccio

Trees in Trivento in everlasting bloom

Thanks to the efforts of Lucia Santorelli.....

Little Lucito - Lucky Too

My partner's son called Lucito LUCKY TOO, when he came to the village for the first time.
Reading it phonetically as an English child that is just how he saw the word as he does not speak Italian, and it really rather apt or at least I hope it will prove to be,

Lucito held a pirate festival I didn't manage to get along to, but apparently was a roaring success, as well as several other concerts and gigs, which were immensely popular with everyone and attended by people of all ages...



Festivals here are original and fun, they are as diverse as the landscape, which ranges from rocky mountains, sweeping valleys, green wooded glades, deep river gorges, sandy shores, and a blue, blue sea.

Not forgetting the hilltop castles, and churches which march proudly across the region.


Molise has so much, oh so much just waiting to be discovered.


Yes, we want to keep it a secret, but surely we must share at least some of it now before it is forgotten or reduced to dust 































This post first appeared on Molise Matters, please read the originial post: here

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