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In the way of serendipity, the owners of my apartment have ancient roots in Verbicaro.  His mother and father were born there within a stone’s throw of each other.  Yet the parents met in the U.S. many years later (at the funeral of someone from the village).  Her mother was born at another house which formed a small triangular neighborhood.  Who could predict?

Tradition in Verbicaro

Tradition continues in Verbicaro

I wrote of this as my dream village on my last trip.  You can read about that experience here

Imagine my joy when they spoke of the Festa Della Maria Grazia and invited me to go with their family. 

I never tire of these religious festivals.  The wait (there’s always a very long wait) is part of the pleasure; watching the people,

Men on benches in Verbicaro, Italy

There are benches everywhere in Italy. No wonder!

wandering the streets to view the painstaking work of preparation,

Verbicaro

The women of my host family.

Verbicaro Festa

No one walks over these intricate designs until after the madonna has passed.

Maria della Grazia

These designs are formed in one night from grains, dyed salt, coffee grounds, etc.

and being bewitched by the colors of each family’s most precious linens hanging from the windows in honor of the madonna of the village.

Verbicaro

Colorful linens hang from windows in this medieval village.

This occasion was special since it included being introduced to countless aunts,uncles, cousins; in addition to being in the home of my host’s father and sister.

I had seen the church before, but it hadn’t been filled with people and surrounded by such decorations.

Maria della Grazia

Hordes of people walked in the procession to the top of the hill.

Devotion in Verbicaro

Devotion to the Madonna

Top of Verbicaro

To reach this pinnacle the statue of Maria della Grazia was carried up steep winding streets.

Devotion to the Madonna

Devotion to the Madonna

Men carried tall flags and women proved their devotion by their headdresses.

Food booths, a marching band and the obligatory fireworks filled the evening with music, lights and a continual hum of

conversation punctuated by the incantations of the priest.