Low to the Ground in Italy
It was almost dusk. The tour bus parked on the main road. Then small cars took us down a winding dirt lane. We walked the last bit.
It wasn’t far. But a small incline made our destination just out of sight.
We had no idea what it was. We’d heard that it was ceremonial. That there would be a bonfire. But exhausted after an intense week and with hours of writing ahead of me, I would have been as happy to return to my hotel and order in.
Until I saw what was over that hill. We had entered into the annual Feast of St. George as celebrated by the Lungarotti family and their community in Torgiano, Umbria. We enjoyed wine from the Lungarotti winery, porchetta (for meat eaters) and, of course, fava beans.
When it was finally dark, the bonfire of twigs collected from the vines was lit to celebrate the start of spring – as has been done every April 23rd for centuries. About 20 feet in diameter and 10 feet high, it was an awesome sight. Walking away from the crowd, I looked over the valley and saw four other bonfires representing similar celebrations by other communities.
This is the type of experience I seek as I travel – experiences that are low to the ground. It felt like the best of Italy. Tradition, celebration and community in the open air.