January 6th, 2005


Yesterday as I typed out the last sentence of “They’re Always Fighting,” I heard music from my courtyard reminiscent of Edinburgh or the Scottish moors. Ah, the Zampognari had come to my door! These relics of ancient Italy represent the shepherds who visited the manger at the birth of Christ. This time of year they go to all the shops and cafes in Forio, and even way up here on the mountainside, and stand at doorways and play their haunting music. It’s customary to give them a small donation. They smile and call out, “Buon giorno, come va, auguri e tanta felicita!” These two come from the small towns of Benevento and Avellino, near Naples. The sheepskin bagpipe is a zampogna. The other instrument is called, variously, a piffero, ciaramella, or shawn. As you might expect, I interpret this pleasant visit an omen. A very GOOD one. Felice anno nuovo!