Sunday, October 30, 2005


As we prepare for our trip back to the states, as usual I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Today I thought I had everything packed, then realized that I’d forgotten to include any blue jeans. Getting everything washed is no problem, but getting everything DRY is quite another matter.

I left clothes hanging out overnight, hoping against hope that the fog wouldn’t reappear this morning, but of course it did. This is the only time of year when we ever have anything even close to morning dew. The warmth of the days combined with all the moisture in the ground seems to guarantee fog for at least the better part of the morning. I actually had to break down and put a few things in the dryer!!! THAT’S a rare event, and one only precipitated by my desire to be finished packing.

Normally I’d just let the clothes lie around on top of the radiators until they were dry, but right now the radiators aren’t coming on, which is a good thing….except when you want dry clothes NOW.

I’ve never written about our visit to Todi a few weeks ago. Somewhere I had picked up a brochure that told of events in Todi for the entire month of October. Several group trips were planned to surrounding cities and sites, lectures were scheduled, tastings and other interesting tidbits were also noted.

We decided to drive over on the Sunday when there would be a variety of food booths set up, and additionally there would be a demonstration of flag throwing. Assisi is famous for its flag throwers, and we had missed them performing in Perugia during the Bianca Notte celebrations. This demonstration would be given by the flag throwers from San Gemini.

Although Todi is popular with tourists, we can never quite figure out why. Yes, it’s a well preserved medieval city, but that’s about it. It’s really too large and too steep to be a convenient city, it has no notable museums, no churches that knock your socks off, and when it’s packed in the summertime it can be miserable. Now there ARE great views from Todi, and looking AT Todi is rather spectacular, but as for Todi itself, well, as I said, we just don’t get it.

But the good news is that because it’s such a large and well-touristed city, they do have lots of stuff going on. This brochure full of events was proof of that, and a medieval display of anything is right up my alley. I knew we’d probably end up buying a bottle of wine or a jar of some salsa from the food hall, but what the heck, I was living dangerously!

We arrived around two, and a stage was being set up near the steps of the Duomo. We did see a few posters about the event, but now I can’t even remember what they said. I think it was some sort of peace rally, or maybe it was just a pep rally for Jesus. I was confused….if there was going to be a concert, where would the flag thrower’s perform? Eventually I asked in the tourist information office and was assured that “Yes, the flag throwers would perform at four”. Okay.

We went up the wide stone staircase to the large medieval hall at the other end of Piazza del Popolo. The people’s piazza. The hall had been decorated with a fall theme and the vendors were just getting set up. There were vendors with breads, cheese, honey, dolci, wine, even prosciutto and other meats. We tasted our way through the room after picking up a few brochures from the Umbrian Tourist Board. At last, someone who knows what “marketing” is. It’s so hard to find information about what’s going on, so the more information I can get, the better.

A very long table was set up featuring the wines of four or five, or maybe even six different wineries. Samples were free and there was no pressure to buy….this is Italy! Eventually Art did buy two bottles, but most of these wines we can get on a regular basis, so there was no need to stock up….then have to carry it around all afternoon.

By the time we left the hall, preparations were still going on for the concert, but it looked as if it were getting ready to start. We sat on the stairs, which would later turn out to be the absolute BEST place to watch the flag throwers!

A small crowd was gathered in front of the stage, and within a few minutes it was filled with eight or ten people on stage, all Franciscans, all wearing the traditional brown habit. And then they started to sing! The priests and nuns had their dance routines all rehearsed, and they sang along to a nun with a guitar, doing their turns and dance steps like an old time vaudeville dance team!

The concert was a hoot! They did line dances to all sorts of songs, most upbeat “poppy” songs, but all having a religious theme.  The audience grew and most of them sang along, clapped along and participated to the max. We were spellbound! It was like a scene from some 1960”s movie in which Hayley Mills decided to become a nun and goes to Italy. Remember those movies? Parent Trap….the FIRST one? What was the name of the one about the nuns….Damn! I’ll have to Google that tomorrow because it’s driving me nuts! ("The Trouble With Angels", also starring Rosalind Russell!)

So…..eventually the concert ended, and as it was winding down, men were moving traffic barriers out onto the other end of the piazza…..the end of the piazza were WE were sitting! They created a large rectangular area for the performance, and we would have ringside seats, elevated to that we could see (and photograph!) everything.

The flag throwers, drummers and horn players had changed in an upstairs room, and as they assembled they had to walk right past us, giving us a good look at not only the men, but also their authentic and beautiful outfits. “Costume” sounds cheap!

The stone of which the city of Todi is made just resonated with the pounding of the drums as the group marched out onto the piazza. The horns blared, and it would seem that they must be very difficult to play, Each of the flag throwers marched in, each carrying a large silk flag of the same design and colors as his outfit.

Once the demonstration started, various groups of two, four, and eventually ten men swirled, twirled and hurled the flags over, around  and up!  Their skill and precision was amazing and we were so glad we had the chance to see this exhibition!

I've posted all the pictures on the ST site: Flag Throwing


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