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Window on Italy - Festa Primavera

Colleen Simpson

We use any excuse for a festa, a big party! My friend Luca decided several years ago to have an annual spring festival at his beautiful farm located in the center of fields of sunflowers and wheat. It is an excellent place for us to gather in the month of May for a full day and evening of feasting, singing and dancing! Musicians gather with antique instruments to take turns playing ancient music for the traditional tarantella dances of Italy. These dances were once an ancient fertility ritual performed at the beginning of spring to ensure fertility of crops and many a young woman hopeful of fecundity danced with her consort!

Tarantalla Dance

We gather up our guests and our family who are visiting from Seattle to take part in this day of fun. I make a traditional American potato salad which is greeted with enthusiasm as it joins Italian dishes on the long table of food, which is often replenished throughout the day. A big table is also full of homemade Sangiovese organic wine in 5 litre bottles that has aged since our harvest last October.

Our grandson Kellen quickly makes friends with an Italian boy and joins a game of soccer. He easily masters the international language of fun!

Children playing soccer

Many people join the dancing and singing, taking up ancient musical instruments or just humming along. People bring many talents to share in this day of welcoming spring. One young girl shyly approaches the microphone to sing for us, making her papa very proud.

Girl singing

One of our guests joins the circle dance as he recognizes a familiar folk tune and is soon having a wonderful time transported back to the days of his childhood in Israel. Many of these ancient songs have haunting melodies and traditional rhythms that travel easily from culture to culture.

spring dance

Under a cloudless blue sky in the midst of wheat and sunflower fields, listening to the ancient music and joining in the dances unchanged for centuries, we welcome spring into our lives! Eating and drinking wine together on a perfect spring day, we enjoy La Vida Dolce ... the sweet life of living in Umbria!


Colleen's Window on Italy is a series of monthly articles on Slow Travel. Read the article "Colleen's Window on Italy - Introduction" for more information.

Colleen Simpson lives most of the year in Piegaro, Umbria and operates L'Antica Vetreria (www.anticavetreria.net): a villa and four apartments for vacationing guests. At other times, you can find her in beautiful Seattle.

© Colleen Simpson, 2011

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