Tuesday, November 02, 2004

All Saints Day

I don’t remember this day being very special but in Italy it is. The Italians never stop amazing me. November 1st is always “Ognissanti” or “All Saints Day” in Italy and a day off of work if it’s on a weekday (they don’t move their holidays to the closest Friday or Monday!). The focus of this holiday is remembering loved ones that have passed away. So on this Monday I was invited to Pedro’s house where the small town, Carpignano, has a huge festival to go along with the day. What a contrast. As I was leaving Brindisi I passed the cemetery and it was pretty early but the police were already out directing traffic and roping of areas to park for the crowds just starting to swell. I felt really moved by the respect they have for their loved ones. There were whole families going to pay tribute and remember. I know I’m going to appreciate my family more when I return to the States. When I arrived at Pedro’s house I realized this was a big lunch, but I didn’t know exactly how big. We walked to town and surveyed the scene. Vendors selling everything and I mean everything; pet shops, clothes, food, farm tools (I particularly liked looking at the equipment to harvest olives, there seems to be several ways to get them), toys, and on and on. After walking around for about 2 hours we finally bought some things needed for lunch castegna nuts, Parmesan cheese, and (of course) olives. When we got back there were 22 people (including myself) in a small 2-bedroom house. Sheer pandemonium. Everyone went about their chores and I just kind of watched and put out a plate here and moved things from here to there trying to stay out of the way. When the meal started I played it better than Daniele’s house and didn’t eat too much at first so I was better off in the long run. Wine out of bottles with no label and castegna nuts roasting over burning pinecones on the back porch, I wanted to have each and every one of you there with me. All this and I committed a horrible mistake. I took the battery out of my digital camera to charge it up and you guessed it. Realized this the moment I picked it up at his house and it was felt way too light. Only my mental images and a hope that I get a chance for something like this again. After dinner the 20s and 30s people went for a walk it was Pedro, myself, his brother, two of his 3 sisters, and one of the sister’s boyfriends. We walked down his street with low crumbling stone walls on either side. Pedro and I were throwing Frisbee between the olive trees. Me trying to impress Pedro’s sisters (yes I know Frisbee skills rarely, ok, never impress the ladies), and Pedro was showing off the fact that he knows someone who is crazier about the Frisbee then him. I think his parents were happy to see this affliction is worldwide. After a short walk we went back for desert, which included the famous pasticciotto. It’s hard to explain and this post is long enough already so I’ll save that for another day. In the end it was the contrast between the sadness of remembrance and joy of what you have, now. You could say it’s their Thanksgiving.

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