My little girl is Pugliese on her father’s side. He took her back to Vieste a few months ago for the festa of Santa Maria. Something he said he’d do since she was tiny. The invitation didn’t extend to me though. Not that I expected one. Those days were over long ago. Before they’d even begun truth be told. But, mother that I am, I couldn’t stay in Melbourne either. Instead I followed in their wake two days later and kept my distance, first in Milan then at the apartment in Perugia. If Mara needed me I could be in Vieste in half a day. If she didn’t meglio ancora. But at least we were covered.
Marabella knows Vieste well so that helped. We took her to Italy to be baptized in the Duomo of her father’s town one cold and damp February morning (and I mean cold and damp like only a coastal town in southern Italy can in the middle of winter) when she was just eight weeks old. Born in Australia, reborn in Italy everyone said. She’s been back to Vieste often since then. Sometimes with me, sometimes with her father. It’s funny but when it’s just the two of us there Marabella’s always my protector in a way. I may be her mother but Vieste is her second home, her family whenever she wants it. And she shines.
Until today I’ve only ever posted my own photos on the blog, so you could say Marabella is my very first guest blogger. These photos are all hers. It’s the evening of May 9, the annual procession of Santa Maria di Merino, and the ancient wooden Madonna with the upturned face, the one that looked on as Marabella Giuseppina was baptized, is being paraded back to her home in the Cattedrale di Vieste for another year. To see the light in Mara’s eyes even now as she recounts the story of that day makes me proud. Of both of us.