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MATERAView from the window, periferia, Matera

Matera.  Blessedly cool, at an altitude of 800 meters or so, and after a torrid few weeks just before we arrived when the temperatures were 40c.   It is Ferragosto, a time in Italy when seemingly everyone flees to the beach or the mountains. In other places in Europe much the same occurs as massive traffic jams and crammed airports and vacated cities testify. As it really is almost everyone, much closes down in the cities and towns, and the urban masses migrate to cram the sands with tanning souls, there to chatter, fight, have little flings, disport their bodies whether beautiful or not, and otherwise escape for a week or two the humdrum of their ordinary lives.  Though in fact they simply continue the daily norm in another setting, minus the work (or its absence):  at the beach or mountain town they gather from 7-10pm or so for the passegiata, just as they would at home, strolling up and down whichever central street, chatting to the same people, night after night, about gossip, politics, and basically the same old thing.   In America the same people would inhabit the same bar, or cafe, to do much the same, though not with the same compulsory pressure that exits here.   Italians, being culturally highly social, like to congregate to talk at any excuse, and the concept of being alone is almost absent.  To be alone is to be without friends, to be shunned, in exile, and in this culture that is about the worst possible.  Hence the parade, 20 deep, of neatly laid out umbrellas, marching down the sands as far as the eye can see, each accompanied with a folding lounge seat, and a bill of so many Euro per half-day.  Come Ferragosto these are stuffed with families, cavorting, crying, laughing, sunning, all in the name of “fun” and vacanze.

When I lived in Rome this was my favorite time of year – a sudden quiet come to usually hectic streets, to walk virtually along in the deep August shadows, the world briefly turned into a vacant di Chirico or Antonioni world, cars and bodies gone, and something close to urban silence.


row1eclipseAntonioni’s “L’Eclisse”

[Note: new post up on paginasparaclara.]

One Comment

  1. Collecting festivals from around the world – aiming for one for each and every day. Looks like a good one to add!

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