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Camarda Town: The living Christmas Crèche


 
 
 Event Date: December 29th 2013

After following the road from Paganica to Assergi, by way of the wonderful Madonna d'Appari's Church, between rock gorges and fields covered by the white frost, I reached Camarda. In that evening, the village was completely lighted by red torches.
The small square of the village, near the "Bar Cavalcante", rang with a distant music covering the eternal murmuring of the fountain.

I followed that music, as sweet as the perfume of Christmas, beyond the arch that welcomes the visitor, marking out the border between the present and the past, beyond which an ancient world tells and lives again its history. In the air, the smell of the dried wood burning in the fireplaces of the decorated houses woke atavistic memories of a past which I didn't know, a past with traditions and rites, jobs and tranquility, songs and peace repeated every year...
The red torches showed the way (Photo by Toni Pulsoni)

And as I kept walking, the sound of the music became differentiated from the voices of the visitors. In the higher zone of the village, many people waited for the visit of one of the most beautiful show of the Gran Sasso National Park, during the winter... All the Camarda village was a living crèche under the silence of stars...

I kept walking, following the music that was very close now. The stone street became narrower and narrower, you can get lost between the ancient stone houses, built when Camarda was just a small bucolic settlement. I followed the road which then turned beyond the irregular corner of one of those houses. There he was: a piper playing a Christmas litany, a spell enchanting rocks and trees of the closeby gardens and the heart of each passerbyer.

A piper played his litany (Photo by Toni Pulsoni)


Burning torches showed the way, as silent and flickering as fragile souls, slurring their secrets to one who is able to listen to them. Their flickering licked my thoughts; I was captivated by the music of the pipe while I was going on through the red street.

And there, beyond another corner, a huge door showed a large cave inside. At the entrance, two young men looked after a young donkey ruminating its hay and passed their time playing cards.

At the entrance, two men played cards (Photo by Toni Pulsoni)

I stayed there, enchanted by that sight; then, a sudden voice distracted me: "Fate passare lu prigioneru!". Some soldiers were leading a prisoner through the narrow streets. The noise of the prisoner's chains was lost behind the corner and I went back to walk through the past.

Then, the street became larger, and suddenly to the right was the surprise of the beautiful panorama of Camarda, lit by several small lights. Down there, under the street, a group of old women gossiped about the news of the village, while one of them was sifting wheat. 
In fact, it seemed that Serafino's son and the younger Beniamina's daughter fell in love and they had met every day in the Nicolina's cave. But nobody knew if the news was true.

Climbing on, the way was filled with the perfumes of typical foods, which woke again memories of a peasant world. In one of those wood doors, two women offered a warm "pork rinds and lentils" soup to visitors. At another door, three men warmed visitors up with hot sweet wine.

I went back to my path, leaving behind the perfume of "cagliata" cheese. Then just a hundred meters farther, there it was: the Nicolina's cave, hidden by the Lucky Grandfather’s house. In the cave, the two lovers wove strings to make a stronger rope, with gestures that seemed to hide a deeper weaving, the weaving of their souls. At times, whilst weaving, their hands met just for a moment; then, they withdrew and their eyes went back to the threads, waiting for another moment...
The way carried on climbing and filling with perfume of typical foods, wich woke again memories of a peasant world. In one of those wood door, two ladies offered a warm "pork rinds and lentils" soup to visitors. In an other door, three guys warmed visitors up with hot sweet wine.

I went back to my way, leaving the perfume of "cagliata" cheese, and just a hundred metres after, here it was: the Nicolina's cave, hidden by the Fortunato Grandpa's house. In the cave, the two lovers wove strings to make a stronger rope, with gestures seeming to hid a deeper weaving, the weaving of their souls. Sometimes, when they were weaving the strings, their hands met just for a moment; then, they withdrew and their eyes went back to look at the strings, waiting for an other moment...

Two lovers were weaving strings (Photo by Toni Pulsoni)

I left the young lovers weaving their love and went to the wood hut of a drysalter grinding hemp seeds to make a "cannigiata" soup. The wood beams were covered with copper bowls and solitary ladles illuminated by the warm light of a small torch. The woman told ancient stories about when Camarda lived with hemp products, and hemp plants covered the fields with their large leaves.

Meanwhile, the high stars smiled in the sky and the Magi were setting about walking to the holy hut. The stone street was lit only by the warm light of the workshops, left vacant by artisans going to watch the Nativity scene. I kept walking and, at last, in that plain which divides the ancient burgh of Camarda from its medieval Tower, I saw the end of my journey.

In a wood hut, Joseph and Mary looked after their son Jesus, warmed by the breathing of the donkey and ox. The shepherds, leading their herd to pasture, stopped to pray in front of the cradle. I approached and kept silent, waiting for something I already found in my heart. I lifted my eyes and saw the Moon drawing its smile in the sky. I smiled...

Coming back, walking downhill, I stopped to admire a fountain murmuring its stories: it was the "Fontana del Treo", which talks with the Clock Tower which is always off-hour.
Around here, everything was silent: just the peace of the night and the sound of distant pipers...
One more time, the burghs of Abruzzo lit again my fantasy... 
I was dreaming...





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