Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Busy Day

As our departure date from Catania edges ever closer, the pace of life gets ever faster. I actually got up early and went for a walk (exercise???) into Acitrezza and ran into more festivities surrounding their Festa di San Giovanni Battista.

Traditional Red Dresses for the Festival

Although all of these dresses are basically the same they are not if you look closely. Different ladies have added some degree of gold trim to personalize their outfits but you really must have a gold cord around your waist to be in with the in crowd.

If you want to go casual to the Festa just wear a red scarf like the man seen here.

8:00 a.m. Band Practice?

No, it was another Parade winding its way through the streets on their way to the Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista.

There is a video of this band at the end of today's blog for your entertainment pleasure.

Cool Sash

I followed the band a few short blocks to the steps of the Chiesa where a crowd had gathered.

After a few minutes out came the parish priest with this dignitary proudly wearing his Italian sash. They then waited at the curb in front of the Chiesa for several minutes. Who were they waiting for is the question?

Then an official looking, gray car drove up and who got out?

None other than Pope Benedict XVI himself!

What an honor for this small village.

At least I think it was him, I could be wrong.

Nothing says San Giovanni Battista to me more than balloon art next to the Chiesa's courtyard.

"Da Me Cinque!"

This nickname, which Jason and I bestowed on her last year, means "Give Me Five", a high five actually. I yell this greeting to this Acitrezza jogging icon as she races by every time I see her on one of her DAILY half marathons!

Catania's Rape of the Sabine Women Fountain

What clearly differentiates European cities from American cities are their GREAT fountains. This is Catania's #1 fountain in my opinion and is found near the train and bus stations.

We were here today to buy the bus tickets for the recliner "Pullman" from Catania to Palermo next Monday to start the Grand Tour home.

After returning home, we set out again for Acitrezza for their 5:00 p.m. "Sea Faring Re-enactment" which is the highlight of today's activities unless you count the shooting off of "bombs" and fireworks at 1:00 a.m. which probably sounded like a new Sicily invasion to the uninformed tourist.

BIG guys guarding the small Candelaria. . .

O.K., one guy is normal and the other one is HUMUNGOUS!

. . . and SMALL guys guarding the big Candelaria

We gathered at Acitrezza's Harbor for the "Tribute to the Swordfishing Industry" which historically was the lifeblood of the local economy.

5:00 p.m. came and went and the Tribute somehow did not start on time.

Imagine that. . .

The skies were turning a little ominous and I thought that they were just waiting for another tropical rainstorm to hit us before starting.

Finally at 5:22 these three Swordfishermen got into a traditionally painted fishing boat and rowed the 30 meters into the roped off harbor.

How are they going to catch a swordfish in this small area you ask?

It won't be easy!

They rowed around this area, about the size of 1/3 of a football field, for about ten minutes with the guy in the front using a spear to try and catch a swordfish.

The guy in the back of the boat had only one job, to yell encouragement to the guy in the front or maybe he was just ragging on him for his way too numerous misses.

Finally he speared a swordfish and is seen landing it!

I would have never thought it possible in this small area.

The assembled multitudes went wild!

Blood Letting

Our trusted fisherman then pulled out a huge meat cleaver and proceeded to hack at the swordfish. Blood was squirting everywhere!

You can notice some of the people in the crowd averting their eyes from the butchering.

O.K., it wasn't really a swordfish, it was a young man. It wasn't really a meat cleaver, it was a wooden replica. It wasn't really blood, it was vegerable dye.

It fired up the crowd nonetheless, so much so that they re-created the re-creation with the same "swordfish" two more times before we left. There is a video of this Tribute at the end of today's blog also if you are strong enough to watch.

We had to stop and gaze at the three tall rock formations that gave Acitrezza its name.

Our last Junior practice

We met twice a week with these future Elephants during the months of May and June.

They improved SO much, the future looks bright for the Elephants.

They will start up practices again in September and then participate in a tournament in October.



Salvo is the man in charge of opening, closing, and turning the lights off and on for us at our practice facility at CUS.

In the beginning last year, he was THE most punctual and grumpy man in all of Italy! We didn't dare practice one minute past 9:30 or he might lock us inside the field.

I gradually started to win him over to the Dark Side by just talking and joking with him. By now he would just ask me when he wanted me to turn the lights out and just went with it.

Every successful organization needs guys like our Salvo on their side!

Band Concert

The "Killing" of the "Swordfish"

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