Friday, September 07, 2007

Viaggio: San Marco dei Cavoti

I think it's time to get I will begin at the beginning of the trip: San Marco dei Cavoti, a quaint little town in the hills outside of Benevento, in the region of Campania which is also home to Naples (to the west and south of where we were).

Why go there? Well it's the little town where the grandfather of Il Nostro Inviato (a.k.a. Mike) was born. It's also, to be clear, the town of the Torrone and Croccantino, locally-produced chocolates in which the residents take great pride. ("Dire Croccantino è dire San Marco dei Cavoti.")

Like many Italian towns, San Marco has streets lined with cobblestones, its historic center is full of tiny alleys and the food and wine are to die for (at least by American standards). Which is to say very different from the world I live in every day.

The first night we arrived, there was a drumming concert in the piazza right outside of our B&B. What a way to arrive!

I would say the music we heard was where the show Stomp got its whole inspiration. For two hours, a half dozen men played probably a dozen different percussion instruments. Not mops and forks but actual drums. It was mesmerizing!

Just imagine: a tiny medieval square filled with people, the stars above and traditional music filling the air. Pretty much the reason I took vacation in the first place.

The group did two encores, and I think they could probably have played another hour, if the crowd had its way. While they were drumming, they performed simple choreographed movements that enhanced the presentation. Here's a photo of the group, Percussioni Ketoniche, above.

Interwoven with the group of drummers was an additional performer who played the role of storyteller, as well as a large tambourine. The performer, Nando Citarella, harkened back to the traveling musicians of the Middle Ages, and in fact, explained the history of such musicians as part of his set. He also sang an ancient tune, like a town-crier, that was beautiful in as much as it was rustic. Here he is making his arrival.

Folks....this was just the first night! I haven't even showed you yet the homemade wild boar mortadella we ate or the bottle of Aglianico we gladly ingested before the concert!

Let me quickly give a plug to where we stayed, B&B Vicidomini (left). It's in a building from 1674 that was once a church. The owners, Rino and Franca, bought it as their home and then converted the upper wing into a bed and breakfast. It was a fine place to stay, and we really wanted for nothing. Unlike the small pensione where we later stayed in Trani, the bed was firm, the room large and cool, and the hosts really quite hospitable. Thanks Rino and Franca!

There's more to tell about my trip to the south of Italy.....

Stay tuned! A tra poco!


Mary Kate said...

The concert sounds fantastic! Obviously I'm jealous, so I'm going to pick your brain for more details. Were the musicians playing traditional Italian music? I know very little about Italian music, so when I saw the particular drums in the photo, I hear either Latin (think salsa, merengue) or African music in my head. Maybe a hybrid of African and Italian music? Either way, an awesome experience.

Ciambellina said...

Ciao MK and welcome to Ciambellina!

Needless to say, I thought of you during the concert. I am going to have to leave it to your expert ears to figure out the style of drumming (I would not say Latin, but who knows). I snagged a CD so you can take a listen.

Hope all is well! Please come back early and often.