Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chiamata di Marzo

"Call of March": a great, original and festive event that parade through the streets of the spa town, Recoaro Terme, hundreds and hundreds of people in costume , or in groups, on foot or on carts prepared with all kinds of scenes, showcasing an extraordinary range of objects, tools and evidence of the civilization and tradition "Cimbrian ". (via this link)
On Saturday night I was googling and reading up on Soave, so I could better answer some of the questions that that kids had about the castle and walled city. Well on one link from a local B&B, I found a list of day trips from Vicenza. One click led to another and I discovered the town of Recoaro Terme. It's actually known for it's famous mineral water springs and it's resorts/spas but as I was reading about Recoaro I read a byline about a special festival and parade that happens every two years (even years only) on the last Sunday in February.
The feast fell on the last Sunday of February. Then it was the spontaneous expression of joy that permeated the minds of the mountain people, forced to remain closed in the houses and stables for four or five months, when the first warm spring melted the ice and winter every relation and the normal communications between the districts is that the center of the country. Towards dusk, after having gathered in crowds in their districts, hundreds of shepherds, herdsmen, farmers, and their families down in the village, dressed in outlandish costumes and fashions, in procession compact between a devilish hubbub.
(don't mind the rough translation...google did that for me).

 When I realized that it was the next day I said we had to go. I mean the kids loved a castle but a parade? Italian or not, it's a parade. We knew there would be yummy foods, we knew we'd be closer to the mountains and we also knew that if we didn't go, our next chance wouldn't be until 2014. So we woke up Sunday and we went!

I will be the first to admit that while I knew it was 45 minutes away and obviously because it has springs, it's near the mountains, I did not put two and two together and realize that it was IN the mountains. From our house we can see the Dolomite mountains and then the Alps behind them. We actually took a 3 mile long tunnel through the Dolomites and Recoaro is nestled between the two mountain ranges.
It is absolutely gorgeous. I mean, words cannot even describe...even the kids were going on and on about how pretty it was!
Recoaro is nestled down in the valley but we had to park much higher up and walk down. These two photos are from our parking lot...note the parking lot below and then below that, the festival itself.
 
 But the air was so crisp and clean, the walk down was so quiet and the views were breathtaking...
While Recoaro may be known for their mineral springs, resorts and spas we recognized it for their bottled water! We buy it at the commissary all the time...it's a whopping .19 cents a bottle and it's delicious!
Once down in the action, the boys announced they were starving! Luckily all the bars and caffes were open and many had their windows open and we selling right out on the street. (sidenote: in Italy bars and places to grab an espresso and a pastry, pubs are like american bars). In my best Italian I said ''Voglio ordinare quattro panini al formaggio e panini al salame". I'm not sure if that was grammatically correct but we got 4 cheese sandwiches and one salami sandwich so I did something right! (cost for all these sandwiches 7 euro or $8.75USD).
 
 We arrived around 11:30am and the parade didn't start until 2pm so we had plenty of time to walk and explore.


Of course after all this walking and sight seeing, the kids were hungry again so we stopped for some gelato.
 
 Peanut and Pooks both chose fragola, Bubba picked caramel, B went with stracciatella and I chose fior de latte, all in un cono. (Strawberry, Caramel, Chocolate Chip and Sweet Cream all in a cone). Sissy just tastes everyone's then eats B's cone.
 
We ate our gelato in the sun, in Piazza Dolomiti (the town square) and let the kids burn off some energy.

 
By this time the crowd was getting pretty thick. People were claiming spots along the parade route so B got the kids some water, us some bianca vino and we found a seat.
In true Italian fashion we sat around and waited for awhile. Although the parade was suppose to start at 2:00, it was almost 3pm before things got going!
 
 This was pretty cool and Dad, I thought of you because before they rounded the corner it sounded like a drumline...in actuality it was these guys who were rhythmically hitting a wooden bowl against the side of a cheese barrel.
I caught a quick video but it's not the same as being there, obviously...


After the drumline there were more floats. Each float was pulled by a tractor or a small truck. Several just barely fit through the buildings! A volunteer policeman was helping direct.

 
Each float depicted a scene from the time period. Washing linens, woodcarving, eating, drinking, making wine...a lot of the floats had lit fires on them (something you would never see in the states, lol). Several were giving out bread, biscottis, grappa, wine but Ron's favorite was this guy who gave wurstel e polenta.

The kids favored the floats that were giving out cookies, bread and candy. Usually these treats were handed out by kids who were in the parade themselves.

There was so much going on and surprisingly, though we don't speak or understand much Italian, it was very easy to understand the little skits just based on what they were doing, their expressions and their mannerisms.
 
 
 
 


 There were several animals in the parade as well. The boys' favorites were the chickens and the sheep!
 

  
 Now I'm sure watching the parade as an American, that I enjoyed different aspects of the parade that maybe the Italians overlook. (Seriously, fire on a float? Petting chickens in wheel-barrels? Handing out shots of grappa to a crowd? All amazing things that probably happen all the time). But this part of the parade was truly amazing. Part of what amped it up was that you could hear it, before you could see it. And when you saw it, you didn't understand it until they started moving again. We were waiting and waiting and waiting to see what was gonna come around the corner when suddenly we could hear all these ''huh, huh, huh" and whooping, hollering...finally these guys come RUNNING down the hill with their arms interlocked around these two thick ropes.

  Then almost as quickly as they got there, someone yelled and they all stopped. They were obviously intoxicated, lol and resumed drinking as soon as they stopped. 
So they sat on that ledge (which made me nervous!) and drank and laughed until....
(hopefully the video works)...

It was amazing! Suddenly that HUGE log came out of nowhere and coming down a hill, we immediately realized why they had to keep stopping and waiting. (the drinking was just fun I guess!)

Shortly after this, we made our way back to the car. We had watched over 40 floats and they were still going strong, but my kids weren't. After walking and standing for almost 5 hours, they were tired. So we trudged back up to the parking lot. Once there we snapped a few more pics...
 before being told by a policeman, that we couldn't leave said parking lot until 6:30pm. It was 4:15. We were leaving that parking lot, we just couldn't go back down the same way we came because the roads were blocked. No big deal, there has to be another way out, right???

Wrong.

Okay, kinda right. It started out okay. We were on a nice two lane road up the mountains...we even pulled over and let the kids play in the snow for a bit (which turned out to be their favorite part of the day)
 
  
Then it got scary. Our two lane road turned into a one lane (but still two way) gravel road, up the side of a moutain with no guardrail...nothing. Luckily we were following someone else who was obviously familiar with the roads being this way. It was scary and dangerous and I have no pics because I felt like if I leaned toward the window to take a pic that the entire van would tumble down the side of the mountain. I give B huge, huge praises for literally getting us off that mountain alive. And in case you think ''oh Shannon, she's so dramatic' just know that when we finally got down again...we had to pull over and shut the van off. The brakes were so hot that they were smelling up the entire car with that burnt rubber smell. Only once safely down again did B admit that at one point (when we made a sharp stop then needed to go again) did he think we might actually go over (as the brakes weren't really gripping the ground as well as he would have liked to keep us from rolling back and when accelerating the car didn't want to go forward). But in the grand scheme of things our near death experience only last about 45 minutes. The kids were asleep and none the wiser and I never had a full blown panic attack. All in all, the day was still great! (just fyi if you ever go to Chiamata di Marzo...don't try to leave early, just wait til 6:30).

(sorry this post was so long but I wanted to make sure to save everything. If we're friends on facebook, I realize much of my blog is repetition...I share on Facebook the condensed version but I still want to have the real trip, excitement, photos and story documented for the kids'...which is the purpose of this blog.)

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