Cinigiano celebrates Lent

The hill town of Cinigiano lies at 33 km from its provincial capital of Grosseto, in Maremma, in an area dominating both the Ombrone Valley and the last part of the Val d’Orcia. It is considered a land between sea and mountain: the town, in fact, offers many viewpoints from which one can admire the sea in the distance and contemporarily presents alternating landscapes leading inland towards the majestic peak of Mount Amiata. Dominating the plains where the River Ombrone lazily flows, Cinigiano is surrounded by gently rolling hills dotted with farmhouses and covered with golden cornfields, dark green thickets of oaks, the forever changing colours of the vineyards and the mystifying silver of the olive groves.

The town of Cinigiano developed itself around a medieval castle of the 12th century and along the ridge of the hill. Interesting sites are the 15th century little church of Santa Maria della Neve and the 16th century church of San Michele Arcangelo. On the highest part of town are still visible the remains of an ancient tower. In the town centre, many traditional wine cellars open onto the streets and are open to visitors during events such as Calici di Stelle, ‘Goblets of Wine under the Stars’, during the summer and the Grape Village Fair in autumn.

This Wednesday, 22nd February, Cinigiano is celebrating an ancient tradition, recently brushed up, which commemorates the end of the Carnival period and the beginning of Lent, La Notte dei Rivolti, uncomely translatable into “The Turned Overs Night”. This event goes back to older times when the means of entertainment were fewer than today, but greater were the imagination and the desire to be together. Everything started on the last night of carnival, practically a will not to interrupt the celebrations. These “party animals”, after celebrating the whole night, on the first morning of Lent would start to cook the Rivolti, the ‘Turned Overs’, a popular dish of flour and water, cooked like pancakes in  a pan. Dividing themselves into teams, the villagers would go looking, from house to house, for olive oil, wine and, who were luckier, even chicken and lamb. Others would visit shops and receive various items such as shoelaces, knives and more, which would be sold, together with the dishes prepared. With the money, crates of fish would be bought and the highlight of the celebration would be the ‘baptism of pork into fish’, more precisely salted cod, baccalà. This way Lent was safe.

Today this gastronomic revival hopes to gather again that healthy spirit of togetherness  extant in present villagers. Some kilometres away from this beautiful village, quite near the gorgeous thermal baths of Saturnia is a lovely bed and breakfast hidden among hills of vineyards and olive groves. This holiday accommodation in Maremma offers 6 large rooms, furnished with environmentally-friendly materials, and a magnificent garden full of roses and cypresses, with swimming pool, overlooking the unspoilt Tuscan countryside surrounding it.

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