231 – 233: Noto Nocturnes

 231 – Monday 7th December 2015:  A Noto Ordination

Text by James … who will K find next to do the write up?

The morning run started a bit late but we reached Acicastello – I did a bit of speedwork along the Promenade – I am quite determined to race in the next month….

Adieu to Aci Trezza and we journeyed south on the A18 motorway – heading back to Noto. On our previous visit with our guest writer Kerstin, we had met a German lady who lived part time in the area. She told us that 2 new priests would be ordained on Monday night and on Tuesday there would be a large procession and lots of celebrations – this seemed an excellent reason to return – not just to see the wonderful Baroque buildings and churches.

Driving smoothly down the A18 motorway – K at the helm – just approaching the turn off for Syracusa – there was an almighty bang beside us – a shower of wreckage and bits in the air – a car had a high speed impact against the central reservation fence of the opposite carriageway ! We stopped on the hard shoulder and k phoned the Police – a number of other drivers must have done so – the Polizia arrived quite quickly.  The accident car looked completely wrecked – we just hoped the occupants survived….  Our van suffered some scrapes and a small hole in the bonnet from flying shrapnel – if it had hit our windscreen – it would have shattered !  Nothing compared to the possible injuries to the accident victims….  We have come to learn that the driving culture in Sicily is inherently unsafe – because we are 28’ long and a large vehicle travelling slowly, we probably have some advantages (unless it’s a mountain town !).

The free overnight parking area (photo below) looked good and just on the fringe of the old/rebuilt post-1693 earthquake city.  To get to the heart of Noto – there were steps to climb – not too many thankfully and just 10 minutes from the Citta di Noto.  Recce’d (what horrible English, James – just as well it’s not your first language !) and retired to Chardonnay to get suited and booted for the ordinations at 5:30 pm.   Now then – the last such event I attended was 30+ years ago – but I recall it was just like a wedding – invited guests only. However, we already knew members of the public were ok to attend in Noto.  We arrived at the Cathedral at 5:15 (plenty of time, we thought) – to find it was already filled to capacity (standing room only) – a thousand folk ?  Eventually, we sat on the step of a side altar – which had quite a good view. 5:45-ish, the grand occasion kicked off – a hundred priests (!) processed through the Cathedral – K reckoned all the priests of Sicily were there.  The Bishop of Noto delivered a homily – it was theatrical – my Italian/Latin is good enough to identify much use of “pecatta mundi” – the sins of the world.  As a Catholic (not a regular churchgoer), I have had my fill of fire and brimstone in the 60’s.  But, the bishop calmed down and the celebration continued with lovely choir singing – and finally Giovanni and Paolo became ordained priests – to rapturous applause from the huge congregation !  After 2 and a half hours, we slipped away – a lovely warm family occasion – a first for K.  

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View to Acicastello on our morning run

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View back to the Cyclopi Rocks at Aci Trezza

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We took this going back up the motorway on Wednesday: you can see with what force the car hit the barrier, and the barriers here are seriously strong – they need to be.  Less than 1 km further up the road we saw a newly overturned car on the opposite carriageway.

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Bishop’s looong sermon: it sounded full of brimstone and fire

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232 – Tuesday 8th December 2015:  Feast of the Immaculate Conception

We were awoken by 8 thunderous artillery rounds at 8:00 am – K was convinced that Mt Etna was erupting on our parking area – and she complains about my geographical prowess ! No signs of lava in the photo though…..

I had forgotten that 8th December is the feast of the Immaculate Conception – a most important occasion in the Catholic Church. K’s photos show the completely novel (to us) way of placing the floral garland on the statue of the Virgin – at midday outside the Church of St Francis of Assisi.  I even remembered the Latin words of the Angelus hymn – Amelia – can you sing it please ?  

The main procession was scheduled for 5:30 pm and we managed a quick glass of wine at Paolo’s cafe near the Cathedral…. Paolo knew every man, woman and child who passed by en route to the procession… He also serves a good Marsala, K assures me…..

The photos excellently capture the spirit of the procession – it took 40 strong men in relays to carry the statue of the Virgin around town – including one uphill section !

Yet another warm family event – all ages out on the streets. We probably celebrated these feasts in Ireland in a similar fashion 50+ years ago – clearly, Italy has maintained traditions that go back many centuries…  It definitely gets the whole community involved – not a bad thing ?

Paolo’s cafe seemed to draw us in again – was that Marsala K ? (K: yes another two glasses and they were not sherry schooner sized!!!)

A lovely day – one of those magic moments that we are lucky enough to find.  Will K become a convert – and drag me off to church every Sunday ?  I don’t have the heart to tell her that altar wine is not Marsala !  

Ciao, amici….

 

 

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View down to our car park – 4 of the Italian vans went off early – up and at ‘em

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Part of a nativity scene that filled a small room in a side street.

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The Bishop emerges with the floral tribute to the Madonna …

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… who hands it over to the fire fighters? ….

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… aah – now I see why.

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Tied carefully in place.  And then a cacophony of canon fire.

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Town officials … sporting white blouson jackets … some were filled by their bellies!

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The band struck up and this cheeky chappie caught my eye.

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Bishop and church dignitaries posing for the press.

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We celebrated with a coffee and J had a Tiramsu (just for you Sylvie – he did not really want it! – forced himself, honest!!!)

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Church of Francis of Assisi ready for the parade of the Madonna

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Clerics and church orders descended from the Mass first …

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The Madonna carried by a lot of burly priests and accompanied not by canon fire, but fireworks and showers of paper contain the words ‘W Madonna’ 

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People and the band followed through the streets of Noto

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Many watched on their balconies … this lady dressed to match her poinsettia plants.

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We peeled off and returned to the bar, and about an hour later the nuns arrived, heading the procession

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Once the Madonna was safely back at the church, there was a superb firework display

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233 – Wednesday 9th December 2015:  Abortive Dentist and Motorway to Palermo

Minor dental treatment is required – not to sew up the outlet for the hot air – but a filling of sorts.  I visited a dental clinic in Noto but failed to get an appointment – K photo blogged while I pounded the cobbles and steps…..

Palermo beckons – for the second time – A18 again northbound this time. We passed the scene of the bad accident – the photo above speaks for itself. Later, a car on it’s roof on the carriageway – these motorways are not busy – what is it ? Speed seems to be the problem everywhere…..  Rush hour in the streets of Palermo en route to our overnight stay – the van fuel gauge suddenly indicated empty – somewhat adding to my driving stress levels….  a quick fuel fill and onwards.  K navigating by Google maps (Brad sidelined) – I managed to overshoot the gate of the parking area – K had to guide me reversing (the van, not K reversing) in the dark and rain and traffic, successfully…..

Buone notte, readers……

 

Postscript:  Well done Maddy

Well done to my Munchkin:

a) massive hair chop and donated it to Little Princess Trust

b) all selected Universities have offered her a place … she just needs to do enough work to get into the one she really wants … Kent Uni.

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One thought on “231 – 233: Noto Nocturnes

  1. Beautiful photos as usual! Italians do really celebrate the Feast Days! Lovely! Lucky you to go to an Ordination. Lovely Hair-Do for Maddy! Talk soon. Xxxx

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

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