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Sicily 3: Good Friday Procession.  For 2500 years, Sicily has been a melting pot of Mediterranean and other cultures and conquerors, : Greek, Carthaginian, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, German, Spanish, French, before finally acceding to unity with the Italian mainland in the nineteenth century.  Olive has already commented (Sicily 1) how Good Friday processions in Spain are spooky.  I think therefore that the procession we saw on Venerdì Santo must date from the Spanish era.  We had been told that the processions – the make up of which varied greatly between towns, though all would include statues Christ and the Virgin Mary, and often guild banners – were essentially about the Sicilians’ relationship with death.  And, my, was this mournful.  Very long faces, no chatting, to begin with anyway, and the band playing very solemn music, including at one point Chopin’s Funeral March.

We were driven to Castiglione. After we had parked, I limped along with the others in search of the procession, and after a short while we saw it coming towards us.  We went up some steps, and I managed to get these pretty impressionist photos.

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People in various uniforms, including clergy, a choir of female voices, the band and large numbers of the general population. “That’s it” said Francesca, as the last went by.  “But where is the statue of Christ carried by the four virgins?” I asked.   It had been there she replied.

We moved along by the side of and near to the front of the procession.  This time I saw the Christ figure.  It was much smaller and  less obvious than the Virgin Statue.  Very odd, I thought. (And I’m not sure how I managed to miss it first time anyhow.)

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From time to time the priest intoned prayers, and processors sometimes joined in

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Very young and very old were there…

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… though this push chair is carrying a loudspeaker so that the priest may be heard.

 

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This was the only person I saw looking from a balcony, though I reckon most of the town was taking part.

We continued, accompanying the procession.

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And I stopped to record the band.

The procession ended up at the church.  I didn’t enter and the others just hovered at the door for a few minutes before we all went off to find refreshment.  I discovered amaro, the bitter but tasty drink.

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Yes, that is a conspiratorial look from the proprietor as Francesca takes her drink

 

Saturday: Mount Etna