We encountered this wonderful community celebration/religious festival while walking in the Cinque Terra National Park last autumn. When we arrived in Biassa, the small square in front of the church was packed with people of all ages, there were stalls selling local wine and chestnuts and an exhibition of photos of village life. Then a group of priests in green and gold robes emerged from the church, followed by the statue of Mary carried on the shoulders of half a dozen villagers and the rest of the congregation. The procession was accompanied by a group of musicians and we could hear it winding its way through the narrow streets of the village long after we left to continue our walk. It was a wonderful way to experience a tradition that dates back centuries.
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