The 24th of June we celebrate Saint John, Genoa’s patron, with religious processions around the city, but I’m here to talk about the night of the 23th: a magic night, related to solstice, continued by Christian religion but deeply rooted in very ancient traditions.
In Genoa we use to celebrate the night of 23th June with shows and music around the old town center, which for a night goes back in time thanks to the costume actors, the historical groups and the ghosts from the famous Ghost Tour, and then to meet all together at midnight in Piazza Matteotti, in front of Palazzo Ducale, to continue the ancient tradition of St John’s bonfire.
The first step inside this marvellous event was to get a map of Ghost Tour’s shows: a nice man in a costume was giving them in the square while from the stage the organization was starting the night. As I got my map, I couldn’t do other than to start studying it properly 😉
This year Ghost Tour was made of ten plays, placed in as many typical corners of vicoli, played about every ten minutes. Even if we planned to see them all, we were able to visit only the half.
STOP 1: Columbus’ Dream – Piazza San Giovanni il Vecchio
Gruppo Corriente Vidal
Columbus falls asleep and during his sleep has a premonitory dream: it’s how the great navigator has been chosen by fate for the discovery of the place today we call America.
STOP 2: The old woman from Vico dei Librai – Piazza San Matteo
Compagnia Balestrieri del Mandraccio
An old woman goes around vicoli asking how to reach Vico dei Librai: she can’t find the way to her house. Unluckily Vico dei Librai is not existing anymore from a long, long time, and the woman is a ghost…
STOP 3: Mazzini and the secret society of the Carbonari – Piazza Grillo Cattaneo
Gruppo Storico I Gatteschi
After this play we go to search for another one, but it’s not there because of the World Cup, so we go again in Piazza Matteotti, where people are dancing and singing, and the place for the fire is ready:
STOP 4: The Black Lady – Piazza Santa Maria in Passione
Compagnia Zara 3
The mysterious Black Lady roams with a bundle in her arms, maybe the result of an adultery. Someone says she a noblewoman or a nun condamned to roaming.
STOP 5: Duelling dames – Piazza Renato Negri
Gruppi Storici Sextum e Sestrese
Two noble women, Brigida Grimaldi and Teresa Sauli, fight for the love of a handsome lower class man.
Between a dance and a laugh, a walk in unknown alleys and a play, 11.45 arrived; it’s the moment to meet all, audience and actors, in front of Palazzo Ducale for the starting of the big St. John’s bonfire. And really, we are not few there waiting!
As every year, we prepared notes to throw in the bonfire: St John’s fire, following to the tradition, is purifier, so on every note you write something negative which happened during the previous year and that you don’t want anymore and, hopefully, throwing it in the fire it would disappear…at least for another year 😉
At midnight the fire finally rises between the people: it’s a very moving moment; after a second of silence, as is holding the breath, the first timid flame grows over the heads of the people and a thunder of applause mixed with joy screams resonates in the air.
At this point starts a coming and going of people with hands full of notes, that Firemen and voluntaries are throwing in the fire, while traditional music continues joyful and festive. As the fire goes down, the people around are dancing and singing. It’s 24th of June, Saint John’s day 🙂
The event is cured by Fondazione Culturale Amon, all the info on the site www.ghosttour.it