Buon Ferragosto

August 16, 2009

Carracci's "Assumption of the Virgin Mary" in Santa Maria del Popolo

As you may know, yesterday was a Christian holiday and an official day of rest for many Catholic countries, including Italy. It was the feast day for the Assumption of Mary. For the heathens among you, some info is to be found here.

In Italy, the holiday is called Ferragosta, which “derives its original Latin name, Feriae Augusti (‘Holidays of the Emperor Augustus’), and even the entire month, from the emperor. The holiday was related to a celebration of the middle of the summer and the end of the hard labour in the fields.”

ferragosto

Most Italians celebrate the holiday by eating and drinking together. Yesterday I was invited to the small town of Soriano, where the couple who is renting me their Roman apartment have a summer home. They live out in the sticks, with a small orchard of pear, plum, olive, and apple trees. There’s an ice-cold swimming pool, in which we spent the hot hours of the afternoon (imagine plenty of speedos and chain-smoking). About fifteen of their friends were there, including some delightful animals: a cat, a dog, and a couple of kids. We ate a delicious feast — ribs and sausages cooked in the outdoor wood-fired oven; salami and cheese from Corsica; potatoes roasted with fennel; and pasta with tomatoes, olive oil, and garlic. It was a bright, lazy afternoon. Someone pulled out a guitar and sang Italian songs and Beatles covers. Later they taught me to play the classic Italian card game Tressette. (I’ve been invited to join a weekly Friday-night tournament here in Rome.)

As the Italians say, Buon Ferragosto!

old ferragosto record

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