Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ma Che Successo?

So what happened? There was a stunning upset at the Joust. We didn't attend the July edition, opting to attend a sagra in a hill town instead. We returned home and sat on our terrazzino to listen to the cheers and loudspeaker announcements which were intermittently arriving on the breeze. We live a short walk from Lo Squarcia, as the stadium is called where they hold la Giostra della Quintana.

It was rather rhythmic. A tornata by a cavaliere with the pause as he rode the course, followed by applause and then the announcement to broadcast his score. Suddenly the crowd went wild. Long, enduring cheers and shouts. Drums and trumpets. Something was amuck.

We walked down to the corner outside the stadium and joined a large crowd that was lining the entire length of Corso Vittorio Emanuele to see the results. The sestieri march out in the order of placement, just like in the Middle Ages, so all the good townsfolks can see how their heroes fared.

Following the civic procession, out come the exuberant representatives of the sestiere of Porta Tufilla. Porta Tufilla? They haven't won a Palio in twenty-two years! Everyone on the street was shocked, looking at each other...Porta Tufilla? Ma che successo?

The answer to that question is...I don't know. The morning newspaper wrote of the victory and gave a tornata by tornata recounting of the events...up through the seconda tornata, that is. Then, apparently out of space and not wanting to continue the story onto another pagina, the article simply ended there. The all-important, decision-making terza tornata was not reported on at all. The so-called competing newspaper said only that a problem with Piazzarola's horse decided the match and led Porta Tufilla to their joyful victory.

Such is the way of Italian journalism. We have discovered that the standards of reporting are vastly different here than in the States. First of all, a story is long-winded - meaning long on flowery speech but short on actual information. A recent article about an upcoming festival talked about the "beautiful and atmospheric events and gastronomic delights that are sure to evoke near euphoria in the eyes of the beholder who partakes," but failed to say the particulars about when, where, and at what time these inspiring events would take place. Other articles are circular, meaning they repeat themselves several times over...but basically say nothing of importance. Then there are the public notices...the "articles" that are actually announcements placed by proud parents to tell the citizenry that their daughter just graduated from college with a degree she won't be using as she is currently employed in the local underwear shop; or little blurbs to say the Enrico and Lilli have been married thirty years and will celebrate with a massive feast in a local restaurant. Other such tidbits announce births, promotions, or new jobs, usually for so-and-so's kid.

A good one-third of every newspaper is devoted to lo sport. Every sporting event known to mankind is reported on, complete with photos and tabloid-like gossip about which model each sports figure is currently embroiled with (or has split from). Yawn.

And as if that wasn't enough to drive out any space for actual news, now that summer is here several pages are always devoted to photos of women in bikinis, always in groups of three or more, either lounging in the sun or embracing each other with drinks in their hands showing what a fun, party-hearty time they are having on the beach. No men are pictured. Ever. And yes folks, trees are razed to make paper to print this stuff.

I never did find out what happened to Piazzarola's horse, who was supposed to be so promising and who would have likely won a Palio if something hadn't occurred. Whether he fell, turned an ankle, got skiddish...I guess I'll never know. Nobody of my acquaintance attended the giostra this time around. Apparently the newspaper reporter didn't stick around for the end, either.

1 comment:

erynchandler said...

what a fun tradition...I've spent a good amount of time in Italy but have never witnessed such an event!