Friday, May 2, 2008

Festival of San Giuseppe

After a joyous day without a care in the world on Italian Labor Day 2008, we decided to go into Aci Castello for dinner. There is a pizzeria in town that we have driven by a hundred times, always threatening to go in and eat, but we had never bothered to visit. Gustavo had highly recommended it a long time ago so we finally ate at the Dietro Le Mura Pizzeria. We were not disappointed and I would have to rank their extremely thin crust Rustica pizza in my top 5 favorite Italian pizzas.

After dinner we continued our search for the perfect gelato and ran into Aci Castello’s San Giuseppe Parade.

Now let us be clear on a very Italian concept. Back home in Camarillo, California, our St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church was built in early 190o’s. By the 1960’s, the town had outgrown the old church so a bigger new one was erected across town also called St. Mary Magdalene Church with the old facility, still in use, being renamed the St. Mary Magdalene Chapel. This would NEVER happen in Italy! In Aci Castello the old church was dedicated to San Giuseppe while their bigger, new church is dedicated to San Mauro.

The inescapable logic is simple but brilliant. Two patron saints in one town is an excuse for TWO parades, TWO fireworks displays and TWO festivals each year! I’ll talk to Father Jim about this when I return to Camarillo. VIVA SAN GIUSEPPE!!!

By the way we did find a gelateria right next to the San Giuseppe Church that served a very generous chocolate and torrone (nougat) cone. Huge portions always impress me.

We have a walk through practice tonight at 8:00 p.m. before Saturday’s 3:00 p.m. home game against the Ancona Dolphins (0-3).

I have decided to take the overnight train after the game up to the Cinque Terra region of the Italian Riviera. According to Rick Steves, it is “the traffic free, lowbrow, underappreciated alternative to the French Riviera. There’s not a museum in sight. Just sun, sea, sand (pebbles), wine, and pure, unadulterated Italy.” Rick further states that the Cinque Terra is “…one of God’s great gifts to tourism.

The Cinque Terra was first recommended to me by David Lassen who is still listed in the Swiss Guards’ Top Ten Most Wanted List for illegally taking pictures in the Sistine Chapel. It is a string of five small cities on the coast of the Ligurian Sea in the northwest corner of Italy. The five towns that constitute the Cinque Terra are connected by a train, hiking paths, boats or kayaks.

The first town is Riomaggiore, a “fascinating tangle of pastel homes leaning on each other like drunken sailors.”

Next is Manarola, a 20 minute walk north of Riomaggiore  on the Via dell’Amore (GREAT, just what I needed) which is very picturesque and has “the region’s easiest vineyard walk”.

Heading north by train this time, thus avoiding a rugged 45 minutes uphill hike, is Corniglia.  This is the only city not on the water but on a hilltop instead. It is known for its wine that vases in Pompeii touted even 2000 years ago.

Next up is the region’s cover girl/jewel, Vernazza. I have to go by the Guvano Nude Beach on my walk from Corniglia but I shall avert my eyes maybe.

The final stop is Monterosso al Mare with its sandy beach. This is a resort town with all the fixin’s and not sleepy like the other 4 villages.

I’ll arrive at about noon on Sunday and return by plane from Pisa on Tuesday afternoon, fully mentally recharged and ready for our next game in Palermo with the Sharks the following Sunday! A few days on the Italian Riviera can do that for you too!

Dietra Le Mura, Italian for GREAT Pizza

The Love Connection in Aci Castello

San Giuseppe himself

Trinkets for San Giuseppe

This Bellman rings his bell and the parade starts or stops as needed

The Band LeRoy, the Band...

The old San Giuseppe Church in Aci Castello only opens up a few days a year because of the new San Mauro Church just three blocks away.

St. George and the Dragon

This funky picture hangs in the old San Giuseppe Church, did St. George have a sister? 

Brian, I think San Giuseppe may be a Raider fan.

Even the priest loves a good fireworks display!

Every festival ends with the parade back at the church and the patron saint's ststute being carried back to it's normal resting place.

San Giuseppe stops to visit a shrine to the Virgin Mary, his wife if you recall.

Sicily leads the world in fireworks displays per capita!

San Giuseppe re-entering his church in Aci Castello.

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