Thursday, January 31, 2008

San Costanzo and the Mini-Metro

Tuesday was the feast of San Costanzo, the first Bishop of Perugia in the first or second century. Legend has it that he was martyred by the Romans but it took a bit of effort. First, he was scourged, and then plunged into boiling water, only to emerge unscathed. The Perugini celebrate this feast on 29 January eating a kind of bread called "torcollo di san costanza" which appears to be fruitcake in the shape of a large donut. I think it has something to do with single girls seeking fidanzati.

The highlight of the day is a candle light procession from the duomo, the church of San Lorenzo, through the center of the city and down the steps of San Ercolano (another patron of Perugia) and thence to the cheisa San Pietro -- my very favorite church. The few blocks before San Pietro is set up as a street fair with vendors selling everything from hardware items of indeterminable purpose to clothinfg, and thence to different regional foods. I bought a flashlight, socks and a wool scarf. All very necessary.

Whatever your feelings about San Costanzo, there was no doubt that the Perugini were in a festive mood. It was giorno festivo
Schools were closed, as were businesses, and families gathered in their Sunday best to stroll the Corso Vanucci. And there were street vendors, stilt walkers, a brass band at one end of the street near the big fountain, but the best scene was down the street in front of the Teatro di Pavone (theatre of the Peacock). There was assembled a street band of old timers: two drums, a jawbone-- what a rhythm section! -- accordian and sax. What were they playing? Give a listen: That' right: When the saints go marchin'in. What else?!

Judy and I went across the way to find something to eat, and sure enough the only place open was the WORST pizza in town -- the dreaded harbinger of the decline of Italian culture: The Happy Pizza Shop! Funny thing though -- the crowd was filing into the alley next door -- following the crowd we were soon to discover the meaning of it all: the long-awaited premier of Perugia's own minimetro
There were hundreds of people lining up to ride Perugia's controversial leap into the future for free! A great day: St. Minimetro, Auguri!

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