Potpourri & The Fourteenth Week in Sicily

What a pleasure to walk the streets and around the harbor at night, when the perfume of lime trees, glycine, jasmine and orange flowers is even more powerful than during the day… This was a week with important holidays in Messina, with a lot of people running for CESV or for the Town Hall elections. I didn`t take any trips at the weekend, but I attended a christening ceremony for the first time in Italy, in my friends Rosario and Iris` family where I lived extraordinary moments of emotional warmth and didn`t miss the chance to make new friends.

Words simply fail me when I want to describe what I feel when I walk the streets in the evening, the multitude of delightful smells and wonderful colors that keep me company to and from the harbor and in the Dom`s Square where two important processions were held this week: Vascelluzzo and Madonna della Lettera.

One of the main catholic religious demonstrations is Corpus Domini, which is celebrated in Italy in the second week after the Whitsuntide and evokes The Last Supper`s mass from Holy Thursday.

On this occasion Vascelluzzo procession starts from the Dom`s Square in Messina. Vascelluzzo is a three-mast ship, about three meters long, with wooden interior coated in a light handmade silver covering. The procession is connected with the tradition of this ship which reached hunger-stricken Messina during Charles the 1st of Anjou`s siege (May-September 1282). The inhabitants asked for Madonna della Lettera`s (i.e. Virgin Mary`s) help, worshipped as the town`s spiritual patron saint. The ship filled with food is thought of as a miracle put on Lady Mary. The tradition says that the ship managed to reach the town untouched by the royal naval blockade thus saving the people of Messina.

The second procession, dedicated to Madonna della Lettera, who blessed the town and its dwellers, is celebrated on the 3rd of June, in Messina only. The procession starts from the Dom Cathedral with Mary`s silver statue being carried around town. There are a lot of associations and brotherhoods that participate in both processions. The members wear representative outfits with specific signs on and accompany the two statuettes, singing along with the priests and the other people taking part, and finally returning to the Cathedral.

As I`m not into politics, I won`t say much about the elections, I just want to point out that the streets teemed with demonstrations, speeches and such events, which I have not studied closely but I simply could not avoid noticing. And since CESV is soon having their own elections, we busied ourselves with the candidacies of the aspirants to the posts of president, vice president and committee director, and we also filled in and forwarded the forms called 5×1000, cinque per mille (5%, which is the Romanian equivalent of the 2% form) that the associations deposit for the benefit of CESV.

This week I replaced the trips I used to go on with family events, but I have no regrets because I participated in another christening ceremony, that of a beautiful 2-year old boy this time, Antonio, with Italian and Cuban “roots”. His father, Rosario, is Italian and his mother, Iris, is Cuban and they also have two daughters: Yaris, 11 years, who has a wonderful voice and is a member of both her school and the national choir, and Elida, a talkative little girl, with four front teeth missing, who took to me from the very first moment. I met Rosario by chance, about two months ago, in the confectionery where he works, and there I was, taking part in such an important event with their whole family. At 11 a.m. I attended the christening ceremony in the church, and then I spent all day with friends having lunch, and then dinner and the cake up until around midnight. The atmosphere was extremely warm and friendly, I found acceptance with them very easily and I felt like home… The delicious food was cooked by the three mothers and one of Rosario`s fellow workers. I ate cozze, a kind of fried oysters, which was a first for me, anelli di calamari, and other traditional Sicilian and Cuban dainties, caponata (eggplants with sweet-sour tomato sauce and a little sugar), cheese muffins with sunflower seeds, mini hamburgers, prosciutto and cheese balls, fish and oregano pasta and strawberry cake with Bavarese cream. But I`d better stop here, for your sake ….

As a conclusion, I had a lot to do this week too, I enjoyed every minute of it, every new experience, trip, family reunion, friends and beautiful surprises. Next time I am going to talk to you about the last two concerts at Sant Antonio Basilica and whatever I may find, to keep you posted and…. out of breath, I hope.

See you next week, my dearest!

Translated by prof. Irina Bicescu – Potpourri member