Regular readers will already know of my enthusiam for old italian customs and celebrations, but here is something so unlike anything else I’ve seen that I just had to put the word out EARLY. How early? Try something like 6 years advance notice if you can wait that long. I don’t believe a visit to Sicily needs persuading from my own mouth but really, this cultural event shouldn’t be missed if you seek a side to Italy that is rarely seen outside of its borders.
Ride of the Shepherds, and cheese shaped into horses, doves and deer
Geraci Siculo, Sicily – acknowledging a page out of history that goes back nearly 400 years ago, the Ride of the Shepherds – ‘A cavarccata di vistiamara – is a humble display of gratitude towards God. The event is held every 7 years on the 3rd Sunday of July and involves men and children on horseback in a procession through town. Dressed in distinctive costume, the young men carry an ornament made of a wooden cerchio (circle) adorned with ribbons and attached to a pole. The curious aspect of this cerchio are the figures of horses, doves and deer that are attached to it. They are all hand-sculpted from caciocavallo cheese.
Mark those calendars. The next Ride of Shepherds will happen in 2018! Geraci Siculo is part of the Madonie Regional Natural Park in the province of Palermo. The last time we were in the area was 5 years ago in the village of Castelbuono, a 30-minute drive from Geraci Siculo. Take a look at this youtube clip of how a cheese sculpture is made. Very, very cool.