The bitter alpine wind is still blowing but the sun is out and the air is crystal clear. Yesterday we went to the little town of Massa Martana to look at the Italian presepe exhibition. The whole of the centre is given over the displays of regional nativity scenes and there is a magical feel to the old medieval heart of the place with the music, the crowds and the bonfires. The presepe showing St.Peter's was the most impressive although some in our party were more impressed with the life sized nativity scene carved out of ice and shown in a refrigerated shop window.
At this time of the year the village of Marcellano is given over for a week to a presepe vivente or living enactment of the nativity. Many of the townsfolk take an active part in the affair ( a sense of community and civic pride is still alive and thriving in Italy ) dressing up in costumes, cooking at outside tables and shepherding the flocks of tourists who come to see the event. This is a big affair by Umbrian standards and realism is enhanced by the presence of a real ox, ass and camel. When not performing the camel is billeted on the local sports ground. This morning on our early morning ramble with the boyz we stopped off in Marcellano to see what it looks like the morning after. All was going well until we turned a corner and came face to face with the aforementioned camel wandering across the football field. Wilf was as usual oblivious to everything - but his little brother was petrified at the sight of this large hairy, fierce looking , and doubtless very smelly dromedary bearing down on him from between the goal posts . He became frozen to the spot and the stunned look on his face seemed to say 'yikes! they don't have dogs that big in Scotland - get me away from this place - now! '. No amount of coaxing would spur him on so in the face of fearful PON obstinacy we retreated to the safety of the car and home. What a brave dog!