Part of the gorgeous flowing hills of Mugello, Vicchio holds strong to traditions and festivals. Luckily I was able to visit Vicchio for just this occasion. This town nestled in the hills is the birthplace of the painter Fra’ Angelico, who is celebrated with a bronze monument sculpted by Italo Vagnetti in the Piazza Giotto. Giotto was said to have been born in Vespignano, a town nearby. The Fra`Angelico Museum (open Sunday 10-12, 3-6pm) has no works by the famous patron but it has an interesting collection of works of art from the churches of the region. There is also the house of Benvenuto Cellini which he lived in from 1559-71. It is used by a cultural association which holds events linked to the famous sculptor and goldsmith.
A strong faithful tradition is the Festa Contadina (Farmer Festival) which is held in May. I was invited by a friend to witness such a sacred tradition. I jumped at the chance to see an authentic, unique place. The train ride up to Vicchio is very calming as the train can easily rock you asleep. After the 45 minute ride, you exit and start your climb to the top where the city center is. Where the action takes place. The town is simple, comfortable and full of fresh Mugello air. We find a man-made lake nearby and we decide to take a long walk around it.
The sky is blue as can be with fluffy clouds floating by. The fresh May air, gives me the feeling that summer is just around the corner. We stroll up to Piazza Giotto where the festivities are about to begin. The music grows in volume as we reach Corso del Popolo. There is a folk music group of singing and playing instruments singing the music of the local farmer.
They are dressed in garments from the days of hoeing and harvesting the crops. The women hold a basket of flowers and hand them out to the ladies in the audience. While the men, when it is time to dance, grab a lady from the audience and start dancing a folk dance with them. I was one of the lucky ladies to be picked. I danced and danced with a permanent smile on my face. It seemed like forever. I felt so alive and immediately fell in love with this town.
After a lovely dance and a bouquet of flowers, we slowly made our way around to all the people around the piazza, one woman was sewing and a man was sharpening knifes.
I watch their faces, how simple their lives are, I thought. They smile a lot. There is solace, contentment in their eyes. Dinner begins. We grab a couple glasses of the wine of the region and sit and observe the waiters bringing freshly made pasta and meat to the patrons of the city. There are smiles and positivity all around. It was hard to leave such a pleasant and welcoming place.
Photo Credits: Katie Greenaway