In searching for some pictures to illustrate some of our iPad/iPhone apps I came across this picture of Avetrana, in Puglia. What you see is what Puglians call the Chiesa Madre, or mother church. It’s La chiesa di San Giovanni Battista or the church of Saint John the Baptist. Building on it began in 1468, but you probably don’t remember back that far. I like it because of the odd, stormy spring light.
In front of the church are white arches festooned with lights. If you see these in a piazza or spanning one of the main streets in any Italian town, you can pretty much assume that there is a festival coming. It’s an important sign for those of you who have a car and are driving. We would never have known, coming back from an excursion to Gallipoli, that we happened to have been traveling on San Biagio day, April 28th, when the town’s patron saint was being celebrated with parades, music and food. But we stopped and saw everything.
(If you don’t know the good saint, you’ll have a hard time finding out about him because google thinks he’s a church. But he is known as Saint Blaise in France and was an Armenian bishop who was martyred by being attacked with iron carding combs and beheaded. So, he’s the saint of steel combs and…throats. If you have a fish bone caught in yours, call upon San Biagio.)
In any case, I’ve condensed the goings-on on San Biagio day in avetrana into a short video. See it: Festival of San Biagio in Avetrana