As well as being geographically central in Italy, Umbria is central to tradition and on the Friday of the Easter weekend towns all over the region witness the “Processione di Cristo Morto” – the procession of the dead Christ. At Bellaugello Gay Guest House we are a few km from the medieval city of Gubbio where the preparations already began some weeks ago and it is an event that we love to share with our guests and hate to miss.
In the weeks preceding Easter go to dinner in Gubbio and you might just hear and catch a glimpse of a group of men racing down medieval streets, stopping outside a church and begin chanting, the Miserere, it is a haunting, deep, dramatic melody and part of the tradition that makes Italy so very special. On different evenings they sing outside some of the many churches in the historic centre.
Friday evening before Easter Sunday the effigy is taken from the church of San Domenico and processed around the medieval city centre. The procession is heard before seen, the sound of the sinister ‘battistrangole’ arrives long before we catch sight of the Carabiniere who walk in front of the men in cloaks, all but hidden except for their eyes.
Last night the crowds of spectators were large, it seems all the town and many tourists came out to witness the procession. Many are believers and were seen crossing themselves, many others not, no judgement made, everyone mingling happily together. Soon I heard the Miserere the choir walking slowly behind the effigy of Christ carried on the shoulders of four strong men.
The procession wends its way round the historic centre, up and down narrow candle-lit streets, crowds follow and we pass one of the huge bonfires lit in the streets:
If you look carefully you just see me on the right of the photo, it gives you an idea of the scale of the fire. I remarked to a friend that this could only happen here in Italy. Back in the UK there would be fire brigade, cordons, barriers, police, ambulance and first aid, that is even if the risk assessment would let the fire be lit in the first place, to me it just would not happen, and what a shame, here there is none of that, the fire burns brightly and people walk by. A friend tells me that one year the fire was lit in the same place and melted the telephone box… he went on to say ‘now everybody has cell phones’.
Part of the joy of evenings like these is seeing familiar faces, meeting people one has not seen for some time and sharing company, so it was we met up with friends and late on were a huge table eating delicious pizzas. The conclusion to a marvellous evening.
The next date is May 15th when we celebrate the “Festa dei Ceri” the race of the candles, the town fills with men in white trousers carrying three ‘Ceri’ or candles and in the evening racing them up the hill, a truly spectacular day, come join us!