May 6, 2017
Starting with Easter, and continuing through the first week of May, Licata is awash in Festivals, very traditional, beginning with the somewhat solemn approach to Easter, and ending up with full-on partying for the celebration of Sant’ Angelo, the patron saint of the town.
Easter includes a lot of celebratory meals, and provides the occasion for teenagers to wear their hottest, newest clothes, but otherwise the atmosphere was fairly calm. Many people, gone to Milan or elsewhere for jobs, return home for the holidays, and a very large crowd turns out for Good Friday, where statues of Mary and Christ are paraded through the town, meet in the town center, and then the Jesus statue is crucified at one of the main intersections.
The Sant’ Angelo celebration, which culminates on May 5, is a much more free-wheeling occasion. The story of Sant’ Angelo, whose bones are kept in the main church in town, was killed in 1220 by a French knight – part of the widely hated Angevin occupation of Sicily. When Sicily flared into full revolt against the French, with the ‘Sicilian Vespers’ in 1282, Sant’ Angelo’s reputation grew. The patron saint of Licata, he is regarded as a protector of the city, and in particular, of fishermen and sailors. The sacking of Licata by the Turkish pirate Dragut in 1553 was just bad luck, apparently, but Sant’ Angelo is believed to have minimized the impact of the plague in the 16th Century for both Licata and Naples as well.
Anyway, the week-long festival includes literally hundreds of booths lining the main streets, selling everything from canaries and baby rabbits to frying pans and underwear. There’s music every night for a week, and on May 5 the bones (or whatever) of Sant’ Angelo, in a very elaborate silver box, are taken out and literally run around the town by barefoot men and women in sailor costumes. (To get an idea of it, check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PqpC-hI9sI) The next day there are two greased-pole competitions in the harbor, much enjoyed and widely attended.
Rather than talk too much about it, it makes more sense to show some pictures. Maybe the one important thing to say is there is a genuine spirit to this town, a sense of tradition, belonging, history, and then some fun. It was great being here for it. In a few days Serafina is hauled out for new bottom paint, and we hope to be under way by May 15 at the latest…
More soon, once we get under sail!