Febbraio 3 marks the date for the Festa di St Biagio. Don't quiz me on the his significance but I believe he has some association with the throat. Men named Biagio in this town take over the day and help honor and celebrate this Saint.
The day starts around 7:30AM by the sounding of booming firecrackers. Then around 9AM a large truck rolls into town loaded with plastic containers of bread. Teams of men and boys circulate the town passing out free bread. At the same time the local band marches through the streets playing rousing music.
In mid afternoon the celebration continues with a pinata type contest. One guy or gal sits on the shoulders of a buddy and with a stick tries to break a clay pot strung above the street from one balcony to another. Both are blindfolded while onlookers either direct or misdirect them. When the pot is broken candy bursts onto the ground and it is a free for all for the kids to charge forth and gather the loot. Cargo pants are the outfit of the day. Inside the pot is a paper stating the gift you win. It might be a live animal, a provolone or a salami. There are rules...one swing..no going over the line and no peeking. The entire time the sfida is going on the band is playing. The kids especially like the drum rolls when the challenger nears the prize. One man named Biaggio offers his home made wine to the adults in the crowd.
A few vendors line the street selling nuts and toys for the kids. One guy was making *torrone* on the street. Before heading to the church I spotted the young man who helps me with my computer woes, with his father and younger brother. The dad and older brother are band members and the little guy will be joining them next year.
Following this the saint is taken outside the church and the band and faithful follow it thru the streets of Oliveri followed by a Mass at the church.
The day finishes around 8PM with fireworks on the beach. You can see the fireworks from our balcony. St Biagio Feste is said to produce the best fireworks of the year