One day last week, our neighbors told me that … the priest (??) … Benano at 5:00 …. blessing … (??) … eggs (!??) … on Good Friday afternoon. (This is about how it goes when you try to converse in a language that you’re not very good at.) So I wasn’t clear about what was going to happen — and if they had really said something about eggs — but I was determined to be there for whatever was going to happen.
At the appointed time, a crowd of women gathered with the priest in the piazza right below our front steps. We chatted while getting ready to do whatever we were going to do with all those eggs. We soon understood that we were to have brought our own eggs, so Paul ran back inside and returned with a bowlful of eggs and, in the ensuing conversation, got a couple of women to agree that it would be fine for him to take these pictures of the blessing.
Eggs blessed, we were ready for our next Easter ritual: the Good Friday procession. The choice between the various processions in the area wasn’t an easy one. The woman in the hardware store had told us earlier in the day that her village, Castel Viscardo, had a beautiful procession that included people dressed as Roman centurions. In the neighboring village, Torre Alfina, the headliner was to be the local marching band. We opted for the procession in Orvieto, figuring it would be the grandest.
There are no instruction manuals for these things. We just followed the crowd to a church that featured neither marching bands nor Roman centurions. Instead, we became part of a procession that we wanted to observe. People were handing out candles, and every time I put mine back in a box, someone else would come along and put another candle in my hand. So the procession got started and we managed to drift off and find some gelato instead.
Easter Mass back in Benano was one that we’ll never forget. After six weeks here, many of our neighbors are now as eager as I am to engage in whatever conversation I’m able to muster. They warmly greeted us and effusively congratulated me on my progress with Italian, confirming that half the fun of learning this language is the affirming responses from ordinary Italians. When a neighbor invited us to her house for coffee after church, we gladly accepted and had a wonderful conversation – all but a few words in Italian – and learned more about this lovely place I can now call home.