Monti Rendentore & the Procession of San Michele

Last Sunday I took a group to Monti Redentore in the Aurunci mountains, promising solitude and breathtaking views. The views were indeed spectacular – stretching out across the mountains to the curve of coast at Gaeta… but it wasn’t quite as peaceful as I’d come to expect up here! Find out more below or watch a short film of our day here.

As we arrived, we met with a large procession from the nearby community of Maranola, making it’s way up the mountain. Led by a priest, prayers and songs wafted down the slopes and late-comers jogged to catch up. They were walking to put statues of the Madonna and San Michele in the mountain chapel for the summer.

At first I worried about my group who I’d promised would ‘get away from it all’ but they embraced it and we joined in and watched in wonder. On reflection I realise we were part of something really special.

It was a truly authentic local event which is really important to this village. There was a festival feel – children on horseback, bunting, aunts cooling off in the spring, families selling communion bread, pushchairs bumping over the stones and men playing ‘zampogna’ (bagpipes made from a goat hide) – as the village came together to celebrate their faith.

It wasn’t what we thought the day would bring, but it was the ‘real Italy’ we all search for –  with tradition, family and the church rooted at its centre – noisy, fascinating, beautiful and humbling.

I also loved that we were steadfastly beaten off the mountain by an 84 year old ‘nonna’ collecting wild sage in her skirt and sneakers!

Watch the video here.

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