#ARTMOMENT: The Parte de Sotto Suffers

Sotto Wallow

Time to wallow. The Parte de Sotto is having its communal dinner following its bitter defeat in this year’s #calendimaggio2018. The origins of “May Day” go back to medieval times and are linked to pagan customs that celebrated the return of the spring season and the renewal of the cycle of life.

In Assisi,  the city was divided into “Parte de Sotto” (Lower City) and “Parte de Sopra” (Upper City), ruled respectively by the rival families of the Fiumi and the Nepis. In Ancient times these rivalries would result in deadly clashes; however, the ceremonies now simply reflect a joyful (though still fiercely competitive) event which lasts for several days, featuring flame-throwing, dancing, singing, cross-bowing, and lots of men in tights. #MagnificaPartedeSotto

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.

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#ARTMOMENT: Festa di Santa Lucia

Santa Lucia

Every December 13th, Italy (and the rest of Europe) celebrates the feast day of Saint Lucy. She died in 304 A.D. during Winter Solstice when Italy was still using the Julian calendar, and because of this people say “Santa Lucia, il giorno più corto che ci sia” (Saint Lucy, the shortest day there is).

In southern Italy the saint brings gifts to children while the grandmother prepares a special dessert of wheat and hot chocolate, consumed only during that time of year. In the rest of the country the saint rides on her donkey distributing sweets, the children leave carrots for the animal. Across Europe, especially in Scandinavia, the saint is loved and celebrated in many different ways. #saintlucia

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.

#ARTMOMENT: Assisi is the City of Peace

Francis Feast Day

The small town of Assisi is the “City of Peace.” Millions of people from around the world make a pilgrimage here to honor the life and teachings of St. Francis, one of the patron saints of Italy. After sundown on October 3, 1226, St. Francis died. That night is marked by medieval drumming, flag-throwing, and fire. A solemn procession is held in nearby Santa Maria, and sacred oil from one of Italy’s regions is brought to light his tomb in the Basilica.

The following day Masses are held in Santa Maria and in the Basilica in Assisi, his final resting place. Finally, on the 5th, a large market is held on the streets of Assisi.

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.

#ARTMOMENT: Race around Assisi

Race in Assisi

Every year, a particular type of race is held in Assisi which draws on a medieval tradition. At that time, the entire city was surrounded by fortified walls and had eight entrances secured by large wooden doors. Every night, guards would close each door to secure the city.

The current race, “la Marcia delle 8 Porte,” is an homage to this tradition where the runners mark each entryway before reaching the finish line. The winners receive prizes, live music is played, and food served at the small festival.

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.

#ARTMOMENT: Sagra: Local Festivals

Sagra

“Le Sagre” are folk festivals celebrating local culture and food. Throughout Italy and especially in Umbria, you can find wonderful local specialties cooked and served up by local volunteers. These hard workers are very proud of their heritage and tradition, and cheerfully offer their time. My favorites so far have been for both the sagras for duck and snails — not cooked in the French way (which I also love), but in a spicy tomato broth.

Usually there is a live band and dancing as well. Rich in history and culture, these festivals are a beautiful way to engage in #ladolcevita.

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.

#ARTMOMENT: Ferragosto = August Vacation

Ferragosto

August 15 marks the Catholic feast of the Assumption of Mary and also “Ferragosto,” a national holiday in Italy during which people celebrate the mid-point of their vacation month in August. Feriae Augusti were introduced by the emperor Augustus in 18 BC.

Italy is HOT during August. Hot hot hot. And because of this tradition, many people have the month off. So they go to the beach. THEY. ALL. GO. And Let me tell you, if you live in the middle of Italy, all you want to do is get the hell out of there and GO. TO. THE. BEACH.

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.