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No matter how many days of a vacation…there must be a last day.  We planned to make this one count.

The phase one of the plan…going to the flea market, worked out well.

LasagnaMaking lasagna for our last home-cooked meal was time consuming but successful.

The ocean didn’t cooperate with phase three, however.  The kids have enjoyed the calm waters of the Mediterranean every day of their stay.  Monday, tho, the waves were wild.  We could see that there weren’t many people on the beach.  Was it dangerous?  Did someone know something we didn’t know?

I’m not the bravest beach person.  Robert and I had a spill when he was little when a wave caught us.  I have always felt responsible for his trepidation in the water and have a healthy respect for the sea.  And, honestly, I’m the weakest swimmer of all.

Seiji and Grace went down to check it out.  They came back with the story that the beach was pretty empty.  The snack bar wasn’t really open.  “The beach was washed away and there was no place for the lifeguard’s chair.  So he was cleaning the toilets,” reported Seiji.

Not a great sign.  Knowing how badly everyone wanted a swim on their last day, I enlisted Kellee and Karen, the strong swimmers, to come and lifeguard the troops.  I joined them long enough to catch some great photos.

I also learned later that the beach was empty because it is the day of the festa of The Beata Virgene del Carmelo. She is the madonna from the original church at the top of the centro storico and was to be paraded through the streets in the evening.

We were fortunate to be here for this three-day event.  All such festivals in Italy include much religious ritual including masses, etc.  In addition, there have been concerts in the piazza every night, lights that create daytime after dark, and vendors, vendors everywere.

Virgen del Carmelo in ScaleaBecause none other than myself had been to such a procession, I wanted them to start at the beginning when the statue is brought with great pomp and circumstance from the chiesa.

Headress in procession in Scalea

Amazing headdresses are carried for miles

All of the small alleyways were a crush of people but we could see the wonderful  headdresses floating by above the crowds. It is unbelievable that these are carried for at least five hours through the streets.  We think that it is a bit of a relay team…but still…

I have attended many masses in this small church and know that people go to the alcove and genuflect before the madonna, but this was the chance for many people to touch the hem of her resplendent dress.  The honor, respect, and religious fervor accorded to this icon of the faith is a glory to behold.  I am not a Catholic, yet it is very powerful to be a part of this.

We walked with the believers for a while, cut around the narrow stairways and watched it from the front, and then abandoned it (the procession lasted from 7:30 to almost midnight) and had our last gelato. Even though there were fireworks, the kids decided that since they had to catch and early train, sleep was more important.  So one more trampline jump for Seiji and Miyako and we were off to bed.

Kabooom!  Midnight brought all of us wide awake (except Seiji).  This wasn’t just any fireworks show.  It was typically Italian: loud, continual and glorious.  Some of us left our beds and watched this crowning show of the evening.  A fitting send-off for the travelers.