The annual festa in San Terenziano was in full swing, July 27th to August 5th. Reinvigorated ten years ago by the younger generation of the town, determined to preserve the local traditions, the ten-day party has grown into one of the best festivals in the region. Entire families come for dinner in the piazza, enjoying local specialties like strangozzi con funghi porcini at picnic tables set up beneath the trees. Children as young as seven help to serve the steaming plates while the intoxicating aroma of grilled meats fills the air.
At nine, the musicians begin to set up on a stage erected in front of the medieval borgo; the players are young, but the music is traditional.
The dancers range from 8 to 80; it’s as if they are born knowing how to execute the liscio (from ballo liscio, i.e. “smooth dance”), accompanied by a crooner (or croon-ess) and a brace of accordions. There is a disco in the garden behind the ducal palace, but that doesn’t heat up until later, after the older crowd has gone home to bed.
The dark streets are lit by neon hearts (this year’s theme is love) and filled with baby strollers, long legged teenagers, and elderly ladies and gentlemen strolling under the stars. Gelati in hand, they sway to the music, watching spruced up neighbors move around the dance floor, wheat harvest forgotten for the evening. Scenes like this had to have been inspiration for Cinema Paradiso, so magical is summer here in Umbria.