Posted by Carol Metzker on Jun 21, 2019
 
 
Acquapendente, Italy:
Celebrating Triumph Over Oppression and Injustice
by Carol Metzker, after a visit to Acquapendente, Italy, May 2019
 
If Paul Harris had been born 700 years earlier in Italy, no doubt he would have applauded the efforts of villagers in Acquapendente for their celebration of triumph over injustice.
 
 
(If you cannot see the video below on your device, click here).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
For 853 years, the town of Acquapendente, Italy, has celebrated hope, victory over oppression and a miracle. In 1166, two peasants witnessed the blooming of a near-dead cherry tree and took it as a sign of hope that their town could gain freedom from their oppressor. Every year since the revolt, villagers have created huge, stunning mosaics of flower petals to tell the story of triumph over bondage and injustice past and present. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In these pugnaloni - flower-petal mosaics - the black and white parts represent oppression. Black chains represent captivity. Color represents freedom and the triumph over oppression. Cherry blossoms—in remembrance of the blooming tree in 1166, symbolize hope and the ability to regain freedom.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Some of 2019’s mosaics tell the story of the villagers gaining their freedom. Others depict current scenes with themes of exploitation of migrants, human trafficking and child abuse yet inspire viewers to hold out hope while working toward justice. Each one was exquisite. Each mosaic touched the heart, mind and soul.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Each year, the pugnaloni festival offers a brilliant colorful exhibit in Acquapendente’s town square.  Dignitaries in medieval costume preside. Groups that spent countless hours and flower petals receive awards for their extraordinary art. The cherished pugnaloni go to the church, where visitors can see them after the festival.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Similarly, Rotarians today celebrate their projects and activities that create a better world by showing photographs at district conference parties or through colorful PowerPoint presentations at Rotary International conferences.
 
Keep sharing your artful celebrations of hope and justice through OWR’s programs. They inspire.
 
 
Here's a video of this year’s festival—even in the rain.
 
(If you cannot see the video below on your device, click here).
 
 
 
Editors Note:  Carol Metzker is the author of Facing the Monster: How One Person Can Fight Child Slavery, is aTEDx speaker and Consultant for The Salvation Army's New Day to Stop Trafficking Program.  Carol is a co-founder of the Rotarian Action Group Against Slavery and has been a member of the Rotary E-Club of One World since July 2013.
 
Thank you Carol for sharing your recent adventure in Italy!
 
 
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