19 November 2010

Veneto: Spettacoli di Mistero

The Garden at the Villa da Schio

Up in the hills above our house there is a hermitage, a hideaway, built into the cliffs:   L'Eremo di San Cassiano. It is believed that San Cassiano and San Teobaldo retreated there to pray and meditate.  Written (?) records of its existense date back to the 1100's, but perhaps its been around since the ninth century. (This is a bit unclear to me.)  It is now "owned" by the same family who owns the nearby Villa da Schio.  While the stories of the saints are passed on from generation to generation, there are also legends of spirits, sprites, and other creatures of the forest or mystical world taking refuge in this well-hidden place.

And then there is the legend of the queen . . .


Cover your ears!

In the garden of the Villa da Schio on Sunday, we attended a reenactment of the legend of the Queen Adelaide's brave escape from the tower near Garda where she was being held prisoner, and her following refuge found in L'Eremo di San Cassiano.  (The entire story of the queen can be found here, in Italian.) The gist of the story is that, born of nobile birth, she was promised in marriage to the king of Italy, and when she was sixteen in 947, they married and soon after had a child called Emma. He was promptly killed because another man had his eyes set on Adelaide.  She didn't have the same thoughts and, for that, was locked in a tower. It is uncertain whether she escaped or was rescued, but it is believed that once she was freed from the tower, she and Emma found refuge in L'Eremo di San Cassiano.

The cave is still known locally as the "Covolo della Regina."  (Imagine, a real Italian queen being hidden in the hills just above my house!  It's too much!)

The three witches were fabulous.

The show was a part of a festival of events dedicated to the legends and mysteries of the Veneto:  Veneto: Spettacoli di Mistero.  Events continue throughout the province of Vicenza for the next couple of weekends.

The hermitage is open on the first Sunday of the month and can be reached by many of the trails in the Lumignano area.

Fire-eating revelers provided a bit of post-show entertainment.

Musicians performed after the main show as well.
I've no idea of what to expect of the other shows, but this one was really, really well done.  It was followed by a walk through a "medieval market" with local products and entertainers.  I'll certainly be looking out for this next year and hope to attend more than one event across the province.


  1. How fun! Hope you guys have a wonderful Thanksgiving week!

  2. How wonderful! The passion that Italians put into their festivities never ceases to amaze me! Great photos!

  3. How dramatic! I especially love the first photo with the persimmons...a beautiful Italian autumn shot.