We arrived into Benevento by train from Naples, and were greeted warmly by Laura's relations Sandra and Lorenzo Ciaglia. We then drove for about 30min up into the hills to our destination, the small town of San Lupo. We arrived right at the beginning of the three day festa, where the town honors its patron saint - San Lupo.
During the festa the town comes alive, and is dressed up with lights all up and down the main street and through the main piazza in front of the church.
The three days of the festa include various religious and civic events, including various mass's honoring San Lupo, public concerts of classical music in the piazza, fireworks, processions through the town and the obligatory markets and food stalls.
Of course, it wouldn't be an Italian fiesta without food - and there was defiantly no lack of that - Laura and myself generally returned to our accommodation most afternoons(for siesta), and again at night, stuffed to the brim with traditional Italian foods including, various pasta, pepperoni (stuffed peppers), breads, prosciutto, cheeses, parmigiana, vino, and beautiful home made limoncello - to mention just a few.
The town of San Lupo was absolutely beautiful. The main part of the town is essentially a medieval village with tiny cobble stone streets that wind up and down the side of a mountain.
Now days the town sprawls out a little with more modern, free standing houses surrounding the original village - but we were surprised at how modern the interiors of the older houses in the village actually were.
The piazza is the main focal point of the town (as with most European towns and villages) with a church at one end, a bar at the other and houses all around.
The first two nights we stayed about 1km out of town (an easy walk), in a newly opened B&B which was great. On our last night (the festa night) we stayed in town with some family friends, Alex & Berel, who were a lovely older, English speaking, couple.
We participated in most of the events of the festa, including two of the main mass's, and all three of the town processions - 1 to commemorate the beheading of a bandit who used to raid the town a few centuries ago, the next to bless the local oil and grain, and the final one which was the longest and wound its way through almost every street in the town was to honor San Lupo.
The final procession follows immediately after a large mass given by the Bishop. The procession is made up of a marching band at the front, who are followed by many candle holders (who have made offerings to San Lupo). They are followed by another marching band and a group of men who carry the statue of San Lupo on their shoulders. Finally, anyone else who wishes to participate in the procession (this included us) walk behind.
This final procession took about an hour - on quite a warm day - and wound its way through almost every street in San Lupo (all of the main ones at least). It starts and ends at the church.
Many of the candle bearers walk the entire procession in bare feet.
Once the procession has completed (about 2.30pm), everyone retires to their houses for the festa lunch. Sandra had prepared an absolute feast for us - antipasto, lasagna, scallopini, pepperoni, parmigiana, fruit, and cake.
The festa night included continuous music in the piazza from two bands, and ended around 1.30am with a fireworks display - which we were ucky enough to watch from Alex & Berel's roof top terrace.
All in all San Lupo was fantastic. Initially we were not sure what to expect - we have passed through some small towns before and had been given a poor impression - San Lupo was unlike any where in Italy we had been before. Everyone knew who we were and that we were Australians (or Kangaroos as we were sometimes referred to) visiting for the festa on our Honeymoon.
San Lupo was defiantly a highlight for Italy, and even our entire trip. It was a fantastic way to spend our last few days in Italy - we will leave with fond memories of this little town, and the people we met there.