Festa Week: Donazione della Santa Spina

We are into day four of the Donazione dalla Santa Spina, our annual celebration of the Holy Thorn from Christ’s crown. Everyone is running on pure adrenalin.

Sunday was the official kick off day of the festa and we had roaming bands of archers all over town. Men in tights and women in hunting gear strolled around with gorgeous bows and arrows, shooting at unusual targets: a flag, a lit candle…it was like living in a miniature golf range, only with deadly weapons and strange costumes.

There have been everyday back-to-back rehearsals leading up to Monday night’s “bandi di sfida”.  The bandi di sfida is three short plays put on by each of the three rione or section of town. You either belong to  Del Verziere, Del Borgo or Del Monte, and where you live decides what rione you belong to.  With all the competing flags flying, town takes on the atmosphere of a weeklong, very serious color war.  Traditionally the bandos are spoofs where each rione makes fun of the other, and this year was no exception. Of course I’m completely biased and think that Del Verziere was heads and tales the best of the bunch.

Yesterday was a long day and night of tech rehearsal for our big spettacolo, which will be presented this evening. In between rehearsals, we worked in our very busy taverna.  To give you an idea of the scale, our taverna seats about 120 people and they probably turn the tables at least once. Preparing, cooking and serving these dinners are local housewives and I have to say they do a damn good job of turning out the food. I easily made over a hundred antipasto plates, we went through 25 gallons of cooked beans, untold mountains of pasta and at least a pigs worth of sausage.  Interspersed with eating, there was the archery competition, where I’m sorry to say that we came in second place. However, we hope to have a ringer American on the team next year, so I’m sure we will be victorious.

Today is quiet, thanks god, because our taverna is closed so that everyone can either watch or perform in this evening’s play. This year the story is about the forgotten women in Fortebraccio’s life: the mother, the wife and the mistress left behind. Think of it as the Medieval Italian Vagina Monologues.  As they say here….”in bocca al luppo!” to everyone in tonight’s performance!   


  1. Swisskaese on August 24, 2008 at 6:27 am

    I love Jeff’s costume. It looks like you had a lot of fun. David and I so desperately want to come back to Umbria. We really need a vacation.

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