Superstition, Montemerano, and a Haunted Church

God has a thousand ways to call you but the cell phone is not one....turn it off!

God has a thousand ways to call you but the cell phone is not one….turn it off!

For a country that is predominantly Catholic, Italy sure has a lot of superstitious people. And not only that, but the remedy for all this superstition appears to be touching your balls.

Empty hearse passing by? Touch your balls. 

Black cat crosses your path? Touch your balls.

Don’t put hangers on the bed. And, if you happen to see hangers on the bed – touch your balls.

Don’t put hats on the bed. Ditto.

Don’t open umbrellas indoors. Ditto.

Don’t wash your hands after going to the bathroom…HA! That was a joke. That only applies to men anyways (at least it appears that way sometimes).

And you don’t need to worry if you don’t have balls, it’s OK! You can touch your partners’. Come to think of it, maybe all this superstition is just another way to “lay the ground work” as my husband calls it. 

Anyways, as I was saying before. Italy is sure a superstitious country for a country that is predominantly Catholic. If you’re ever in Naples and want to work the local superstitions to your advantage, be sure to be the FIRST person in a store. It is considered bad luck if the first person who visits a store doesn’t buy something, so you can find yourself in a much higher negotiating position if you manage to make it in first. Do some recon the day before and then set your alarm and be at the door bright and early the next day. Be sure to play it up too – hem and haw over the price “Oh, I don’t know. Seems a little high.” Play the ol’Well-I’m-going-to-just-walk-out-of-here-and-go-elsewhere card (also seen in various CSI, Law&Order, and NCIS interrogation scenes) and watch them fall all over themselves to get you to stay, to buy SOMEthing, ANYthing (with a discount of course).

I don’t know if you’re superstitious or believe in the supernatural, but since I grew up in an Evangelical sort of household, these things were drilled into me and my brother, and I have to say, whatever my other beliefs on God may be, I do believe in something else. We won’t get into that right now. 

This should have no bearing on the rest of my story, it’s just a little background.

Last month, Alessio, Ada, Harpo, and I went to Saturnia for a last minute 3 night vacation in South Tuscany. I had accidentally stumbled upon a little town called Montemerano while looking for something else on Google, and insisted that we visit it when we would be in Saturnia. After all, it was only 7 km away and looked like one of the many small villages just waiting to be explored by yours truly. 

When we did make it to Montemerano, I used up 2 rolls of film on my digital camera on unsuspecting people’s doorways before rounding the corner to see a church. Outside was pretty spartan, I have to say. Rough, carved stone, a wooden door, a crucifix above the door, and a forlorn look in its metaphorical eye that made me feel like I should visit it just so it wouldn’t feel so lonely.

The spartan exterior in all its rock hewn glory.

The spartan exterior in all its rock hewn glory.

I told Alessio and Ada (and Harpo) that I was going to go in and did they want to join me? To which they politely declined so in I went. 

My first thoughts were that the church was your typical Italian church. I won’t lie and tell you that I can identify a church by its’ interior from 50 feet away, but they are more or less all pretty similar. You walk in, you see some pews, you see some candles, you see some artwork, you look up at the ceilings and see some paintings, you see a person sitting at a desk tucked away in a corner with pamphlets explaining the restoration efforts and costs with a small basket for collecting change, you get the idea I’m sure. 

Your typical interior...

Your typical interior…

Now, I DO like going into these churches because they are always so quiet and I like to check them out and just imagine people gathering there years before. Often centuries before my family ever landed in Canada, or before Canada was even a twinkle in her father’s eye. 

I made my way slowly down the center aisle towards the front of the church and noticed the candles flickering to my right just in my peripheral vision. I paid no further attention to them and just basked in the silence, grateful that I had turned off the shutter sound on my camera so as not to interrupt anyone. Soft music was playing over hidden speakers but this somehow did not break the absolute stillness of the place. While I enjoyed the silence, I started to feel a little as if the walls were closing in around me and decided to put my customary euro in the donation tray and light a candle. 

It was at this point I noticed that the candles were electric. My feelings of shock aside  (why put something so cheesy in a place as reverent as this?) I watched them flicker as I walked quietly towards them, mindful not to make too much noise on the marble floors with my sandals. I reached into my pocket, took out a euro and extended my hand towards the change tray. 

At the precise moment the coin was leaving my hand and making its way towards bigger and better things, every single candle flickered once and then went out. As my coin hit the bottom of the tray – a single, lone, candle lit up – directly in the center of the last row. 

I took a picture (Pics or it didn’t happen!), made a mental note to touch Alessio’s balls, and got the H out of dodge. 

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, indeed.

This little light of mine...

This little light of mine…

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