Il 5 maggio
Yesterday was an exciting “Day Two” of Calendimaggio as it was time for the games - “Giochi di sfida tra le Parti: corsa delle tregge and tiro all fune” - the log sled race and the tug-of-war. These are both very strenuous and exhausting competitions between men from Sotto and Sopra; looking at the participants, if there had been any question about the physical prowess of any of them, it was quickly answered! Sotto won the log sled race and Sopra won the tug-of-war so it was 50/50 at that point. Now, the day before, there had been an archery competition; five men from each side shot at targets and the team with the most combined points won. Sotto was victorious which meant that la Madonna Primavera would be chosen from this Parte. This “Lady of Spring” is a maiden who is, ultimately, selected, not for her beauty (although all of the girls are lovely), but at random. Five girls represent Sotto and five represent Sopra and the day after the initial archery competition, the five archers from the winning team shoot their arrows once more. Each of the archers has the name of a girl hidden in his armband and when the winner of this phase is acknowledged, he hands his armband to Il Maestro di Campo who reveals this year's Madonna Primavera. The archers do not know which girl they are shooting for; the “Lady of Spring” is simply given this honor based on the skill of her archer. Perhaps, in times past, this could have been the beginning of a medieval romance; I'd like to think so. The “Tiro con l'arco per la proclamazione di Madonna Primavera” concluded the afternoon activities and then it was time for an aperitivo before dinner.
It is at night in the back streets of Sopra and Sotto that participants in Calendimaggio enact scenes from medieval life. The three judges, who are all professional expects in the period, take a “hard” look at the street scenes; the historical authenticity, creativity, and overall presentation are judged very seriously. Before dinner, Janet and I took a walk to “check out” the activily before the arrival of the judges. Although most of the set-up had aleady been done, there was a lot going on in the tucked-away streets of Sotto. Not only that, but when the judging starts at 9:30, the Parte that is re-enacting “la vita mediovale” goes dark as the streetlamps are turned off. Stepping outside last night after dinner was eerie and, except for the light of the moon, it was “pitch black.”
I woke up early this morning and was out the door before 7:00 am; walked to the back streets to see what was left of last night, but almost everything had already been dismantled and cleaned up. Too early to go to the “Open Air Market” I took a long walk on a road that overlooks the Umbrian Valley; I don't think I'll ever tire of the view and the natural beauty of this region. By then it was time to buy some produce and flowers and go back home for my caffe con latte e pane con burro e marmellata di fichi made by Trappist monks -the best fig jam I've ever eaten!