Druids, Witches, Hot coals and a Tug-of war

Last Saturday afternoon, at the Foce Del Lago of the Prato Fiorito Mountain an ordeal of fire took place where witches and druids walked on hot coals. This was followed by a ritual shamanistic preparation consisting of deconditioning exercises and the abolition of fear and mind-blocks in order to climb the mountain bare-foot. The walk to the magical summit took place in the night and climbers waited for the resplendent sunrise to break across the Apennine range and the Val di Lima.

Actually, I wasn’t there as I was singing with the choir for the Festa di San Pietro e Paolo at Ghivizzano castle but I heard that ten acolytes had been initiated, did the climb and were amply rewarded by deep spiritual experiences and, of course, that dawn. Pictures will follow when available…

I turned up on the slopes of the Prato Fiorito on Sunday afternoon when the Festa was continuing with games (sack-race, egg-throwing contest and a tug-of-war competition.) Obvious to note that great fun was had by young and old alike (including the mayor). Coco (as usual) was master-of.-ceremonies and Mila supplied dance-music with her inimitable style on the fisarmonica.

A lottery was held (in which we had to guess the height of a pig at the top of a pole, the amount of wine in a flagon and the weight of a wooden block): the prizes included a luxury holiday in Emilia and a huge bottle of scotch whiskey. (Needless to say, I didn’t win a thing!)

Bu the real prize of the day was the glorious setting – greenest slopes covered with broom, acres of flowers, the bluest skies, celestial views and great company – there aren’t many spots as beautiful as this one for holding a festival. And such a change from when I went there in January, when icy blasts blew across a desolate landscape – such is the miracle of the regenerating earth which must, for ever, be protected.

It’s great that the Festa del Prato Fiorito has continued into its second year and I hope it will carry on as, not only does it unite families and friends, but also offers an occasion for the few inhabitants of the remote area of Albereta (who devote their time to ecological farming) to get together with their very own festival.

Furthermore, the Festa evokes an older age when the gathering of farmers and shepherds among the luxuriant meadows of the Prato was a traditional annual event. It’s great that the comune is reviving these old occasions before they are forgotten for ever.

It would, however, help more people get to these events if the road to Albereta were improved – a bit of pot-hole filling might be in order and, perhaps, more tracts of metalled surface could be installed…


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