July 10, 2012
It’s taken me days to recover from the hyperbolic Festa di San Paolo in Palazzolo Acreide.
Sicily: Land of Immoderation.
The day was pizza-oven hot. You needed shorts, a cold beer, and your back against a cool blue wall as you waited for Saint Paul to parade out of the church amid pyrotechnics so intense it felt like the town was under bombardment.
My American Man wore shorts, too. (Folks, this is totally beside the point, but do you know how hard it has been to coax him out of his Paul Bunyon duds and into Italian-made clothes? And yet: he now wears embroidered floral shirts and carries lavender blessed by a priest.)
While the men stayed cool with beer, the women fanned themselves (Sicily’s Spanish heritage on full display).
The animals have been blessed by the priest…
though they don’t look too happy about it.
Come on. Hurry up, Saint Paul!!! We’re dying out here.
OK, the explosives are just about rigged up–all over the church, thousands of them.
Notices have been posted everywhere that it’s your own damn fault if you get blown to bits.
Sweet Jesus. What’s in store?
You run as far away from the piazza as you can. The locals have warned you that “there will be no air” there.
Then all hell breaks loose.
Even blocks away from the epicenter, kids have to plug their ears.
And run for cover.
Impossible. Completely impossible!
Imagine a war zone. Shock and Awe. Combine that with an earthquake and Etna exploding. That’s what it feels like.
Now here he comes, the hero of the day. Paparazzi move like Ferraris through the baked streets.
More heroes below. (And we think we’re cooking?)
Wee babes, all pink and dimpled, barely out of the womb, are passed up in the hot sun to be blessed by San Paolo.
And then it’s home for siesta.
The Feast of San Paolo takes place in Palazzolo Acreide every year on June 27-29. The same town hosts the Feast of San Sebastiano in August (dates vary). Both festas are amazing, though I prefer the latter because the piazza where it is held is roomier so you get a better view even when you’re far away. Don’t miss the morning parade that winds all over town to collect bread.