( By Marì R. & CB) MAGGIOLATA: WELCOME SWEET MAY : May is a magnificent month, when Spring fully opens her “colorful”, “scented” arms and her arrival is heartily welcomed in many towns and cities all over Tuscany.
I would like to take you today through an ancient Tuscan tradition. We need to go back to the time of Lorenzo Il Magnifico, when the month of May was celebrated with music and songs all over the streets of Florence. People, worn out by dancing and singing, could find free food and drink at every corner as a way to welcome Spring.
More recently, rural Tuscany still welcomes the month of May mainly with music and flower shows. There are many Spring festivals around Tuscany; but we would like to take you to Lucignano, to enjoy the ‘Maggiolata’, as they call their Spring festival.
Lucignano is a small medieval town perched on the top of a hill, looking serenely down on the Val di Chiana. I have visited Lucignano several times discovering all the hidden treasures of the place, but last year, for the first time, I was there for the Maggiolata and truly loved it. So, today I want to take you with us to enjoy the bright sun,
the beauty of the flowers and the excellent food .
Street Food & Carts
We can have lunch outside Porta San Giusto where is a a big field kitchen with several ‘chefs’ working hard with pots and pans. Our menu? pasta (pici or spaghetti as you prefer) al sugo di nana (duck sauce) then bistecca in piedi (lit. “stand up steak”) that must be good as this is the area of the famous Chianina meat. As side dish let’s choose fagioli all’uccelletta (beans with tomato sauce). While eating, let me tell you something about la Maggiolata. More then 80 years ago, Lucignano welcomed May by a simple parade of rustic carts mainly decorated with wild flowers and a lot of music.
Now there are only 4 carts, one for each area of the town: Porta S Giusto, Porta S Giovanni, Porta Murata e Porta S Angelo. Every year a jury chooses a different subject and then the people of Lucignano work hard to prepare their carts decorated with flowers. During the Maggiolata all the streets are full of flowers, especially “Ginestra “ with its bright colour.
For the carts they use mainly carnations (Garofani) that are very resistant and come in a variety of colors.
At the end of the festival a jury will award the golden Gryphon (il Grifone d’Oro) to the most beautiful cart.
A people celebration
During the week of the festival, everybody in is involved in a way or another. Come on now, follow us, we have finished lunch, let’s take a walk around the narrow streets . Let the joyful atmosphere takes us and we can go peep into old palaces, or shadowy churches. Look at this! Here is Madonna Lucinda
and there is Monna Fiammetta, hurrying along via Roma. She is almost running, she must be late, the parade is about to begin!
There is something funny going on here, don’t you think?!
The sound of the chiarine (elegant silver trompets) and the rolling of the drums run along the street . I love so much the sound of drums, it is like an urgent call from a distant past. Now people are coming, they are dressed in beautiful costumes . The impressive carts are slowly following behind are several groups so colorful and cheerful. I cannot stop smiling.
After the parade we can have dinner, if you like. The weather is usually mild and the happy atmosphere will surely last ’till far into the night. What do you think…can we sing to the stars?