02 June 2005

Giovaninfesta in Marsala

Today is a holiday, the day when Italy celebrates the country’s unification in 1871. Earlier in the week, I had noticed posters advertising special events in Marsala today, so I decided to go see what was happening. Marsala was founded as a Carthaginian colony in 379 BC, and is probably most famous for the cooking and dessert wine which bears the same name.

I found street parking a couple of blocks from the Piazza della Repubblica, which is the main center of town. On one side of the piazza is the Palazzo Senatorio, and adjacent to that is the cathedral dedicated to St. Thomas of Canterbury. Earlier in the week I discovered that the steps in front of the Palazzo were perfect for perching on and people-watching. I knew the piazza would once again be the hub of activity today.

Since services were not being held in the cathedral at the time I was there, I was able to step inside and admire the architectural details and duomo of the cathedral. Another, smaller, cathedral a few blocks away has been renovated and transformed into a cultural arts center. During my first visit, there was a contemporary Christian rock band practicing there. They were loud, but the acoustics of the building aren’t well suited for electric guitars and the like without giving off a lot of reverberation.

Today, the cultural center is filled with hundreds of students from the surrounding areas. The tiring audience of teens, all dressed in their coordinating colors and matching uniforms, is twittering with small talk as the featured speaker carries on about historical and political issues in Italy. Earlier, there had been a special mass, and the day will end with concerts back at the piazza.

After walking through the narrow streets and stopping in a local bookstore, I decide to return to Fontanasalsa for lunch and to begin packing for a very early flight to Rome.

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