It was Patron Saint’s day in Vernazza on the 20th July and the day began like many others. A morning market with lots of ticky tack, pots and pans, custom jewellery and food – surprisingly Tuscan – porchetta ( whole roasted pig) and typical Tuscan sweets of brigidini (aniseed chips) and toffee nut slice.
Colourful socks, not for serious hikers and Balinese style beachwear. Not quite the tradition of years past and only the flags decorating the street gave the idea that the day was the Festa di Santa Margherita.
Now tourists (Italian and non) soaked up the sun instead, leisurely caught up on the news and absorbed the hubbub going on in the little port. Few of the residents were left at home cleaning and still baking.
A group of elegant clad Italians; click clacked around in heels, swishing their glitter about in readiness for the confirmation in the church while tourists looked on from the café as they enjoyed a late breakfast or indulged in a pre-lunch aperitif. Even the cat seemed unaware of the masses milling around.
Others scanned the sea from the Dorian tower for pirates, that didn’t show. Perhaps Johnny Depp had them working on a new film!? Some years back they did have pirates leaping from their boats onto the port brandishing swords, menacing anyone within reach, swaggering around in eye patches and colourful garb. And they used to build a bonfire on the rocks where anything old and no longer useful was tossed, which was a rather practical way getting rid of unwanted goods!
In the afternoon local kids competed in a sports event till the rain swamped them out and a wary eye on the sky warned of further rain and possible storms, so the fireworks unfortunately were removed to dry storage and deferred until August.
As sunset fell, the band gathered outside the church warming up their instruments and the three large heavy crosses appeared with iron men bearers ( surrounded by a support group, just in case!). The priest appeared in all his finery proudly holding Santa Margherita before him and the procession began across the main square, with the band in full swing, much to the surprise and amusement of tourists crowded in the restaurants.
Residents were already gathered at the opposite end of the village in waiting, and started to sing gently as they met their Saint and accompanied her back to the port and into their beautiful ancient church to guard over them for another year.