Anne's Blog

Umbria’s Sacred Acqua di San Giovanni

Date: June 27, 2014 - categories: , , , , - 3 Comments

In one way or another, Umbria’s June rural rites rotate around the summer solstice. The ancients believed that on the vigil of June 24th (later designated as the feast of St. John the Baptist by the Church), he elements of Nature – water, fire, earth, and air – were charged with particular powers. And what fire and water elements in Umbria’s late June festivities!

Fire? Head to Grello on June 24th for la Festa del Fuoco e Guazza di San Giovanni

Water? St. John the Baptist has a strong association with water, logicamente and on the vigil of his feast, farm friends Peppa, Rita, and Olga will be preparing the sacred acqua di San Giovanni. At sunset on June 23rd, they’ll tromp the fields and comb the hills gathering the cento erbe (literally, “one hundred grasses/plants”, though flowers too are picked..and who knows if they’ll find one hundred?). They’ll gather every type of wildflower, plant, blossoms, seed pod, weed and green – particularly those with enticing fragrances. Thyme, rosemary, sage, lavender, marjoram, laurel, wild fennel, roses, wild mint, walnut leaves and the yellow wild broom cloaking hillsides dominate in fragrance and are essential elements of the “one hundred grasses/plants.”

Having taken the night dew, the acqua di San Giovanni is ready for a morning wash

Having taken the night dew, the acqua di San Giovanni is ready for a morning wash

The farm women will soak the flowers and plants all night in a basin – outdoors. The flower-filled water basins must never enter the home. Keeping the basin out all night assures that the first guazza or dew will enter the water. My farm neighbors are puzzled when I ask them why the basin must be left out to receive the guazza. They can only tell me that their ancestors “have always done so – and so must we”. I think I understand why: the guazza descends from the Heavens.

Come for a wash in my perfumed water of San Giovanni! invites Peppa

“Come for a wash in my perfumed water of San Giovanni!” invites Peppa

And no morning wash is more glorious than that of Umbria’s rural people on June 24th. Upon rising, everyone in the family will wash face and hands with the gloriously perfumed acqua di San Giovanni to keep the skin healthy and youthful and to ward off illness. Washing the eyes with this water will assure protection against eye diseases. In many families, a ladleful of the acqua di San Giovanni is added to the bath water of each that day. Infants will be washed directly in the basin of the acqua di San Giovanni before the water is used by others. This water will protect the child.
After all, l’acqua di San Giovanni does not just ward off illness: it protects one from il malocchio.

Peppa shows Cara how to wash in the acqua di San Giovanni

Peppa demonstrates to an Atlanta visitor how to wash in the sacred water

I stopped at Peppa’s on June 24th with Cara from Georgia who has been staying in our Assisi apartment to wash with the perfumed water. We both washed face and hands in the perfumed water. After all, always better to be on the safe side.

Read more la Festa del Fuoco e Guazza di San Giovanni

June 24th - time for a wash in the water of San Giovanni

June 24th – time for a wash in the water of San Giovanni

3 Comments

  • Sharon Kane says:

    Ann took my daughter and I to Peppa’s farm for this celebration 3 years ago. The smell of the water is “divine”, and Peppa’s reverence for this ritual is both touching and contagious.

  • Jon Gilloon says:

    It must be curative- you look wonderful!?

  • Bev Oliveri says:

    What beautiful traditions!
    Bev Oliveri

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

Privacy Policy

Privacy Italian Legislative Decree n° 196/2003 Under Article 13 of the Italian Legislative Decree no. 196/2003, regulations with regard to the Protection of Personal Data, this is an informative report to all interested parties on the modality of the treatment of personal data, arising from interaction with our website www.annesitaly.com
THE PRINCIPAL FOR DATA TREATMENT During site consultation, personal data referring to identified or identifiable persons can be processed. The principal for data treatment is Anne Robichaud Pian della Pieve Assisi 06081 (PG) Italy. The data will be mainly processed at the mentioned head office by the people responsible for the website or by other people appointed for occasional maintenance operations, provided that their actions conform to of the guarantees enshrined in the Legislative Decree 196/2003.
TYPE OF DATA TREATED
Web navigation The information systems and software procedures required for the functioning of this website, acquire some personal data during their normal service, the transmission of which is implicit in the use of web communication protocols. This information is not collected with the purpose of identifying interested parties, but due to its very nature, the information could lead to user identification through processes and relations with data held by third parties. In this data category there are IP addresses or domain names belonging to computers used by users who connect to the site, addresses with URI (Uniform Resource Identifier) notification of the requested resources, time of the request, used method in submitting the request to the server, dimension of the file obtained in replying, the numeric code mentioning the reply status given by the server (successful reply, error, etc?) and other parameters referred to the operation system and to the user’s information environment. This data is used with the sole purpose of obtaining anonymous statistical information on the use of the site and to check the correct functioning; immediately after processing, the data is erased.
Data voluntarily supplied by the user The voluntary optional and explicit e-mail transmission to the addresses mentioned in this site implies the subsequent acquisition of the sender’s address, necessary to reply to the queries, as well as the other eventual personal data registered in the message.
OPTIONAL PERSONAL DATA SUPPLY Except for the above mentioned navigation data, the user may be asked to supply his own personal data through queries or messages to the email addresses shown in the contact pages. Failure to provide such data may be the cause of the inability to obtain the requested information from the company.
TREATMENT MODALITY The personal data is treated in compliance with the Legislative Decree no. 196/2003 and held only for the time necessary to achieve the aim for which it has been collected. Specific safety measures are taken to prevent any data loss, illicit or incorrect use and unauthorized access.
RIGHTS OF THIRD PARTIES The data subjects are at any time entitled to obtain confirmation as to whether or not data relating to him are held, to know the contents and the origin, to check the correctness, to ask for integration, updating or change (art. 7 Decree Law 196:June 2003). In accordance with the same article, they are entitled to obtain the erasure, conversion into anonymous form or freezing of all data used in breach of the law, to object, on legitimate grounds, to the processing of data relating to him. All requests have to be transmitted to the e-mail address anne@annesitaly.com

Agenzia Viaggi Stoppini in Assisi handles all technical support for my guided visits (bus transportation, organization of meals, etc)