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Midsummer Night's Dream

by Marcello Parmeggiani last modified 2008-06-20 15:12

Shooting stars, dancing snakes and street art. There's something for everyone during the week of August 15th.

Shooting stars
For Italians the world over the night of August 10th is the night of the shooting stars - or 'tears of Saint Lawrence', as they are popularly known. However Luigi Foschini, from the CNR research institute specialising in extraterrestrial radiation (Tesre) says that due to the earth's orbit path, peak meteor activity for years has been on the nights of August 11th and 12th. A spot of luck as this year both nights fall at the weekend.

Madonna di Grazie SanctuaryArt at your feet
The beautiful surrounds of the Madonna di Grazie Sanctuary (in Curtatone, in the province of Mantua) is the backdrop to an unusual festival. On August 15th Italy's top 'madonnari' - the street artists who specialise in pictures of Our Lady - will gather at the church and astound all with their faithful reproductions of the world's most famous religious paintings.

Dramatic dances
Of all the traditional festivals organised in and around the Feast of the Assumption (August 15th-16th) we recommend you check out one of the many dedicated to Saint Rocco. Saint Rocco, who is famous for his miracles, has a large following in the South of Italy, specially in the Basso Salento area. Celebrations in honour of the Saint at Torrepaduli Sanctuary, near Ruffano (Lecce), involve a mixture of the sacred and profane, with religious processions being followed by an exuberant dance called the "pizzica-pizzica" where all members of the community join in the general frenzy. Saint Rocco is at centre stage in Butera (Caltanissetta), where an enormous papier-mâché snake writhes its way through the town - according to legend a snake was found beside the dead Saint's bones. Saint Rocco celebrations are also held at Foglianise (Benevento), Gibellina (Trapani) and Gioiosa Jonica (Reggio Calabria).

And don't forget to catch the second Palio of the summer on August 16th in Siena.

Shooting stars - All you need to know about August's meteor shower.
Sky Router - An astronomy portal packed with resources, links, etc.
Madonnari - The official
Back to school - Learn how to create your own religious masterpiece in Verona (scroll for the English version).
Saint Roch - Saint Rocco the healer is celebrated in Pittsburgh, USA.
If you wish upon a star... - - If you wish upon a star . . . romantic souls all over Italy will be looking up on the Feast of Saint Lawrence (August 10

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