Next to Christmas, Easter, and New Years Eve, Ferragosto is one of the most celebrated holidays in Italy.
The traditional festival of San Rocco is generally held to be the end of the summer in Barga.
Of course this is not absolutely true as the sun shines right through August and generally well into September but from San Rocco onwards the nights are perceptibly drawing in and the air is cooler.
Today was the Fiera di Santa Maria and tomorrow, San Rocco.
The background sound over the past two days will be the peal of ringing bells.
Today it was coming from the bell tower at the small church at the top of the Fornacetta – S.Maria della Fornacetta. (moving 3D image of the church here ).
Tommorow morning it will be coming from further down in Barga Giardino at the San Rocco church. (moving 3D image of the church here )
In both cases the bell ringers will be from the same group who for many years been practicing their art here in Barga.
In the centuries old bell tower at S.Maria della Fornacetta today there were representatives of three generations of bell ringers working side by side.
Their ages ranged from the youngest at just twelve years old to the senior member who has been on the planet for almost 70 years.
The San Rocco market is the time when people buy their onions and garlic for the winter, get their knives sharpened by Umberto the last traveling knife sharpener (article here) and go down to dance in the streets at Giardino, now devoid of traffic, with the traditional Liscio band keeping the beat going until the small hours.
‘Ferragosto’ is an Italian holiday celebrated on August 15. Originally, it was related to a celebration of the middle of the summer and the end of the hard labour in the fields. In time, Roman Catholicism adopted this date as a Holy Day of Obligation to commemorate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary—the real physical elevation of her sinless soul and incorrupt body into Heaven.
Before the Roman Catholic Church came into existence, however, this holiday was celebrated in the Roman Empire to honor the gods—in particular Diana—and the cycle of fertility and ripening. In fact, the present Italian name of the holiday derives from its original Latin name, Feriae Augusti (“Festivals [Holidays] of the Emperor Augustus”) – source wikipedia