Friday, April 17, 2009

Pasqua e Pasquetta

With the seders now over and a long Easter weekend ahead of us, Trofie Wife returned to exploring Italian culture. Being in Italy for yet another sacred Catholic holiday made Trofie Wife want to see some more examples of traditions that she would not soon view again. After some Googling and snooping around the cathedral provided no information about any impending passion plays or Stations of the Cross, Trofie Wife resigned herself to missing out on any unique religious displays; perhaps she'd make it to Rome for that sort of event at some point. And then the phone rang. It was Martello. He had missed the bus, and in the midst of walking home from the office, he ran into legions of parading Arezanans.

Turns out, they were reenacting the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) at around 9:00 p.m. or so in the evening (I had thought it occurred during the day but perhaps the event corresponds to the hour of Jesus's death?). The camera and I swiftly met him just in time to document the procession. It was a very poignant display of devotion, with hundreds of people holding candles or just walking in silence and then singing after each station (as directed by the priest via megaphone). The town band played and various crosses and statues of the passion and its aftermath were carried by men with holsters (though I have to ask why so many elderly men were lugging things; couldn't they find any hulky youngsters to volunteer, or maybe it's an honor for a church elder...).

Our neighbors walked along the sea then up the hill and back to the local parish church, S.S. Nazario E Celso, which dates from the 18th century (I had previously only known it as the church on the way to the train station...); plenty of our fellow heathens walked parallel to the route, observing as we strolled. Just as the procession made its way back to the church, the skies opened and it began to pour. They quickly brought in the assorted crosses and statues, and everyone ran inside for cover; Martello and I followed them in order to get a glimpse of the magnificent baroque cathedral.

We saw a flier hanging in the cathedral announcing that all Italian churches would be collecting funds for the L'Aquila earthquake relief this coming weekend. (Note: Abruzzo is about 400 miles south and east of Liguria; we haven't seen or heard much about the earthquake locally aside from this solicitation. Of course, the major national media outlets are following the story closely; on Wednesday night our favorite news program, Exit, discussed the astronomical cost of rebuilding. This time around, Italy needs to take a cue from San Francisco and Japan on how to properly construct earthquake-ready modern buildings.)

As we were leaving the procession, Martello asked why Passover was called Pasqua Ebraica (Jewish Easter), since the two holidays, he said, have very little in common. Trofie Wife countered (thinking at the time that it would make a great academic paper) that beyond the seasonal overlap (and the similarities between Lent and giving up leavened products), there's a case to be made that both holidays center around dramatic historical reenactments of the central moment in each religion's history (the Crucifixion and the Exodus). Martello countered that the revelation at Sinai was the crucial historic moment in Judaism, yet I replied that Sinai was impossible without the Exodus (chicken/egg much?).

Aside from getting our much-awaited gas tank, not much happened on Saturday (aside from sleeping and catching up online). Trofie Wife expected Easter Sunday to be pretty dead, given everyone being off at church or eating with their families. Surprisingly (yet not to Martello, who had suspected it all along), things were open in Genoa. We finally made it to an exhibit at Palazzo Ducale, which Martello had been hoping to check out for a while (it was lackluster) and enjoyed our wanderings through the farmers market (again I ask, on Easter? in Italy????) and our gelato senza coni. We sat by the Porto Antico for a while and noted a sushi joint and microbrewery that we agreed to return to post Pesach. We returned home to make, by hand, chestnut flour gnocchi. It was quite the production, but the dish actually tasted quite good, especially due to chief saucier Martello's valiant efforts with the frying pan. We look forward to making gnocchi with real flour soon!

Pasquetta (or little Easter) is Easter Monday. It's a fantastic holiday, its sole purpose being outdoor picnics (Jesus rises, brings 80 degree weather?). We walked on the path from Arenzano to neighboring Cogoleto and enjoyed the sun in each spot, although we were overdressed for the beach and envious of all the folks in their shorts and bathing suits. Martello even spotted a small family of Hasidic Jews (probably down from Milan for the day and even warmer than we were, given their black trousers) who were also enjoying their Pasquetta. Sadly, the weather hasn't held up and any hopes for a return to the beach this weekend are slim.

Well, that brings us up to date with the wanderings of Martello e Trofie Wife. We are hoping for some fun, local adventures in the next few weeks with the arrival of the Slow Fish Festival and some visitors from near and far. Stay tuned!

Baci e gelato,

Martello e Trofie Wife