Infiorata di San Luigi Gonzaga

Wednesday was our cathedral’s feast day and a public holiday.  The ‘Duomo‘ is dedicated to Saints Gervasio and Protasio. Its original structure is dated to around the XII century but changes made during XVI and XVII centuries have modified the original shape and style.  However, the more ancient construction still can be seen in the decorations on the lower part of the facade, the apse and the gothic Romanesque bell tower. These two saints were twin brothers, martyred for their faith (and the sons of martyred parents) during the reign of the Emperor Nero in the second century.  They are the patron saints of haymakers.

Later in the week we will celebrate the patron saint of the ‘Terziere Casalino’.  This is one of our three medieval divisions of the town, and each holds different festivals to try and outdo each other. Casalino will be holding a Flower Festival for their patron saint, San Luigi Gonzaga.  The main street is marked up into squares which will contain tableaux of scenes made from the petals of flowers. This year the celebration is in aid of the victims of last year’s earthquakes in Abruzzo.

The celebrations began last night with a meal based around flowers.  We managed to get two places through our builder, whose brother’s wife (stay with us) is a cook for their clubhouse.  We arrived and were served an aperitif of punch with mint and a paper cone filled with deep fried sage leaves, acacia flowers and courgette flowers.  We were shown our table and service began with rose wine, mineral water and our first course of fresh tomato stuffed with goats cheese and flowers on a bed of tarragon pesto and nasturtium flowers. Next came a creamy chickpea soup with baccalà, crispy cavolo nero strips and rosemary flowers. Then ravioli stuffed with courgette and mint in a creamy pecorino cheese sauce with courgette flowers. The main course was boned and stuffed rabbit wrapped in pancetta with saffron mashed potato.  The final course after the unlimited wine and water accompaniment was a yoghurt mousse with crystallized rose petals and dog-rose syrup, and a glass of local passito dessert wine.  This gastronomic feast was only 25 euros a head and Rita (our builder’s sister-in-law) kept checking on how we liked everything and also chatting with the local mayor on the neighbouring table.  There were around 140 people served that night by a team of children and young people all dressed in medieval costume. These were the children, no doubt, of the members of this terziere, and all having a fun time together.

I hope they raised lots of money for the earthquake fund and tomorrow the flower petal pictures will be laid out the whole length of our main street.  This should be really spectacular.  Photos will follow.

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