After waiting 3 hot, sweaty hours in line for our rental car (yes, THREE), we were ready for the three and a half hour drive to Ferrazzano.  Oddly, I prefer to drive amidst the chaos in Italian cities and towns to driving on the autostrada or in the outskirts where it seems that the speed limit changes randomly and I’m always anxiously balancing my desire not to get a speeding ticket through one of the traffic cameras and my desire not to create an accident by obstructing traffic that is usually driving three times the posted speed limit. When driving down a hill with a gas truck is barreling down 3 ft from one’s bumper, or sandwiched between a delivery truck ahead and a sports car behind zipping along a curving two-lane country road, the choice is sometimes a foregone conclusion.

We finally arrived in Ferrazzano red-faced, tired, and late for an invitation to cocktails and apertif from my friend Carmine. He was gracious about our tardiness and presented beautiful trays of farinata and cheeses and sangria for us to enjoy before being whisked away by his friend Fabio to our castle apartment (yes I said castle) for the next three days.

View from the kitchen window in our castle apartment.
Side yard of Castello Carafa.
Dude, I said castle. The bathroom still has the original toilet for pooping into the moat. There weren’t always video games around for entertainment, you know

The next morning my aunt, cousin, mother, and I attended mass in the beautiful little church in Ferrazzano, where St. Anthony has already been regaled all week and is surrounded by hundreds of sweet smelling roses and crowned with a halo of illuminated bulbs. Mass in Italian is a bit different, and trying to translate in my head made it even difficult to remember the English words to follow along with the responses and prayers.

We ran into Carmine after mass and he walked us around Ferrazzano since my aunt and cousin had never been there. (I suspect he was so polite that he even skipped the mass for the feast of St. Onofrio down the hill that he intended to attend…!)

Chivalry in action – Carmine helps my septuagenarian aunt and mother down some of the Ferrazzano stairs – didn’t people used to be even shorter when these were built? Did they get around on pogo sticks or something?

Ferrazzano is a beautiful mountain village with vistas that will bowl you over. And steep hills and stairs are par for the course.

Along the way we met his friend Pietro, a retiree who now indulgeshis passion for making traditional Ferrazzanese foods – home-cured cherries, sausages, pancetta, canned tomatoes, etc. Pietro invited us in and plied us with all sorts of his homemade delicacies, while Fabio delivered a bottle of his homemade wine and discarded cherry branches burned in the fireplace. We were unclear if they were also being used to smoke meats.

At the end of the visit Pietro invited us back for dinner. Tonight would be both a procession honoring St. Onofrio (patron saint of the next town, but the mother church is in Ferrazzano), one procession and celebration for St. Anthony, and tomorrow would be a full day concluding a half month of devotion to Ferrazzano’s patron St. Anthony.

Late night feast with our amazing host Pietro. Do I look tired or anything? No reflection on his charm.

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