“Too often. . .I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen.” –Louis L’Amour
Sometimes I feel like Italians create holidays just so that they can celebrate. Although, I feel like every culture does that to some extent. I mean, Americans created President’s Day, and then there’s random days like Labor Day. Chinese people have about two months for Chinese New Year, so I can’t really give Italians a hard time for celebrate every saint’s day that comes along. And if I get fried donuts out of the deal, then I’m really not one to complain.
Yesterday was, you guessed it, the Feast of San Giuseppe, aka St. Joseph. We were warned about it…that is, if you can call merely being told that there will be a procession and fried donuts and wine tasting a warning. I had planned on going…there was no way I was going to miss fried donuts. So at about 6:15, a thunder of footsteps roared down the hall of the monastery and out the door, not wanting to miss the procession from the Duomo to the church of St. Joseph in town. As we turned the corner to walk onto the Piazza del Duomo, I realized that this whole thing was a little bigger than I thought. They even had a cop car out. Granted, it was only one cop car, but it was still a cop car. Tourists and native Orvietani was gathered around the front of the door taking pictures. As we walked up, a group that I can only guess to be the clergy of the diocese walked out, leading the procession. I wondered if taking pictures would be considered sacrilege, but as someone in the group pointed out afterwards, one of the men in the parade was talking on a cell phone as he walked down the steps of the Duomo. Guilt gone, my friends and I proceeded to snaps photos. These people were followed by the crowd that had been attending the mass, and we though that the processional part of the parade was over. Oh no, lo and behold, the band in their bright red jackets started lining up. Behind them marched more important looking people, and then a small cluster of people carrying a statue of St. Joseph, with a couple of large candles lit next to him. On the outside, it probably looked very similar to a parade you might see walking down the street in Taiwan, but the atmosphere and the intent of the day were entirely different than one of these.
And so we followed the crowd to a tiny little piazza outside the church. I was surprised that everyone could actually fit without too much difficulty. The band started playing again, and it actually almost made me wish I had my clarinet with me. But then, the fried donuts started getting passed out. For a single euro, we got a box of donut holes each. Granted, they were a little soggy, but they were delicious. We all stood around eating them, listening to the band play, surrounded by Italians. It was one of those moments that you wish you could bottle up and keep with you forever.