#14: Festa di San. Fortunato

My experience of the Festa di San Fortunato was somewhat different to the way I’ve described the festival in the more ‘serious’ chunk of my blog.

To introduce me to this quintessential Italian experience, David (M's brother-in-law) had very generously booked a table on the seafront, from which we’d be able to watch the fireworks.

At the restaurant, I was introduced to Nonna and Nonno who, whilst very friendly, spoke absolutely no English and were very hard of hearing. What ensued was a lot of me shouting incorrect Italian verbs at two elderly people and making lots of gestures as if we were playing one giant game of charades.

An epic firework display.. City on fire. 

An epic firework display.. City on fire. 

The meal consisted of five courses and David, who is very serious about the business of learning English, decided to translate the entire menu for me, very slowly. 

Over the next couple of hours we binged on Focaccia col formaggio, a cuttlefish and calamari salad, and trofie (traditional Ligurian pasta which looks like little worms but is utterly delicious) with a bit more fish. 

At 10pm everbody suddenly stood up and David pushed me out of the door muttering something about dragons, gun shots and people running with Jesus. Twenty one gun shots were fired, apparently indicating the beginning of the procession, G promptly burst into tears and we ended up marching, hand in hand, through swarms of people to the Basilica. 

I think the combination of me being very short and being very used to barging onto the Northern Line at 8am in the morning surprised M and G, because we ended up far too close to the front of the procession, and were forced to walk solemnly with the all the 'Authorities'. So, the order of the Procession saw: The Genoese Brotherhood and Priests bearing huge statues of Christ, Madonna and San. Fortunato (the Patron Saint of Camogli), followed by the Mayor, the Head of Police etc, accompanied by us, with lots of people who know us looking on very confusedly from the sidelines. 

Once we got to the Church, the statues were carefully carried up the steps of the Basilica, but for some reason, unbeknownst to me, the San Fortunato is different and must be raced up the stairs accompanied by a ‘weeheey’ backing track from the Italians. 

Bonfire material. Behold, one of the sculptures the children have been assiduously painting all week.

Bonfire material. Behold, one of the sculptures the children have been assiduously painting all week.

By the time we made our way back to the restaurant our fourth course still hadn't arrived. Half past 11 is either bed time or drinking time in UK, only ever eating time if you’ve been on bad date and find yourself in devouring a happy meal in McDonalds. 

Once the whole firework palava was over, we went back inside for COFFEE. At 12.30am.  That and a brief motorcycle ride with David back to the house pushed me over the edge and I was buzzing all night. Had to make myself some of the camomile tea I’d imported form UK, via my Ryannair hand luggage, at 4am.