The good folk of Militello in Val di Catania sure know how to have a festa and today my naval officer student Cristiano and I headed there for the Sagra del Fico d'India e della Mostarda or Prickly Pear and Mostarda Festival.
There were stalls as far as the eye could see, selling everything from clothing to ceramics to honey but the star attractions were the parade of traditional Sicilian carts and the band of the Bersaglieri, the crack troops of the Italian Army who run everywhere. Obviously, I could not photograph the latter but I can tell you they were a wonderful sight in their traditional black, plumed hats and, of all the bands on show, received the loudest and longest round of applause from the crowd.
All restaurants in Militello being solidly booked for lunch, we headed to Caltagirone and spent a pleasant few hours there, too. Near the famous ceramic steps, in the Church of San Giuseppe, there is a display of crib figurines from all over the world and this year, a group of volunteers has created a nocturnal crib scene with a model train running on the "bridge" which surrounds it. The train symbolises a messenger spreading the good news of Christ's coming around the world. All donations from visitors go to a fund for the vaccination of Tanzanian children against malaria.