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Set in the Forrest, A Fairytale-like Gathering for the Madonna of Peace | Local Italian Traditions

We have lived along this dusty, suspension testing 'strada bianca' for nine years now, 6 km of 'threading the needle', keeping a watchful eye out for jack rabbits, porcupines, boar and deer (and even one year a pack of roaming wolves), passing more ruins than cars and literally going over the river and through the woods to get home. However, this stretch of hole-ridden crushed rock or  breccia has taught us many things - from where to forage, how to change snow chains like a Formula 1 Pit Stop Crew, to making our world smaller when refugees moved in and then there was my brush with death (rolling the car off the road) that taught me to be so thankful for everyday we live here! But I think the most profound lesson has the meaning of neighbour & feeling part of the community - no matter how far along via Candigliano they may live, we share it's common bond & the bizarre bragging rights that come with it.  

So I was incredibly excited that for the fist time in all these years I was able to attend the very special and sacred festival celebrating - what I call La Madonna di Candigliano. Tucked away behind one of those quintessential Italian countryside ruins, follow the worn path into the woods and you will find the sweetest surprise -

I have visited here many times before walking our neighbours dog, hiking with friends and even showing brides locations for possible ceremonies. I've always been drawn to this spot - it makes my imagination go wild!

Passing five stations or stories along the way, as a close-knit family we made our pilgrimage to the holiest spot along via Candigliano.

This year celebrated 20 years since the discovery of the ruins that marked a forgotten madonna. A young couple while wandering in the woods found the remains of the holy spot marked by soldiers in 1947 who returned home from WWII thankful to be alive and living in this beautiful place. They named it Madonna all Regina della Pace - the Queen of Peace. (I call it Madonna of the Candigliano Valley). Each year, the numbers grow as locals venture down this long dusty road. They gather to pray under the shade of old oak and acacia while babes sleep in their fathers arms, sheep baa and hymes are sung in accapella with the cicadas on percussion.

Passing five stories of miracles along the way, as a close-knit family we made our pilgrimage to the holiest spot along via Candigliano.

Like a scene from a fairy tale set in a magical forrest, the colorful handcut flags fluttered gently above the farmers & country was so peaceful. I grew up a good Catholic girl but have not gone to church religiously since I was in school - but let me tell you, if every mass was outside, under the trees immersed in nature - I would seriously reconsider. It was a beautiful thing to be part of.

And in classic Italian tradition - when we gather, we eat! It was a shmorgusborg-potluck of homemade crostata (jam tarts), home-cured prosciutto, homemade pecorino cheeses and local wine served on a long makeshift table in a clearing of the trees.

 I could hear whispers as I passed "Ca'Çamone"(the name of our house)..."L'Americana"... "Ca Camone"... it made me so happy to finally get a chance to celebrate this beautiful spot with those that it means so much more to than I could imagine. These are good people that were born in this town, will live here simply for their lifetime without wanting any more, and will happily passaway in the very same village where it all began. I would easily say 40%+ of these people here were related - cousins, siblings, great aunts, grandchildren - it's comforting in a way. I like traditions. And yet again, good old via Candigliano has brought me closer to my neighbors & deeper connected to this beautiful land.

Editing a short film about it all now...!!


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