I know it shouldn't happen like this, I ought to know what's going on, but every so often you visit a town by chance in the Summer, and you get an immediate sense that something is about to happen. Call it intuition, a sixth sense, or maybe it's just because a couple of thousand locals in medieval costumes are marching up the street towards you with drums beating, dragging ludicrously large cannons to the main square.
The festas here are great, and they just keep on relentlessly throughout July and August and even into September. Each one has its own historical charm and, more importantly, each one is taken quite seriously by the participants, even those given the minor supporting roles of 'common soldier' or 'wench'.
So we found ourselves in Citta della Pieve, wondering again what was going on. But this occasion seemed a little different from the others, something was definitely building up, and the mood in the crowd was quite excitable, there were chants and taunts towards the other groups of the town and all three; Castello, Casalino and Borgo Centro were definitely going to meet at the top for something.
We began to see people in the crowd putting plastic bags on their heads, some covering up their mouths and noses with their bandiere (normally tied around their necks) and others with cameras putting them in plastic bags too.
Then it began, the 'infarinata'.
From out of nowhere, hundreds, perhaps thousands of bags of flour suddenly came flying through the air from all directions, landing and exploding with some force all around the square. It was absolute chaos and mayhem. Everyone was at it, for about 15 minutes, until one of the groups, Castello, who had arrived in an enormous wooden castle for the fight, seemed to claim victory over the others, and the weary flour covered soldiers and wenches began to dissipate.
The Castello Terziere claim victory
But that wasn't the end of it, because that's the cue for the crowd to get stuck in, and so hundreds more people then ran into the square and took up the fight, this time with anyone and everyone.
Well, this was also my cue. I have always fancied myself as an intrepid war reporter type, so as soon as the small children began to scoop up the last bits of flour from unexploded bags, I finally emerged from my hiding place in a shop doorway and tried to take some dramatic shots. Suddenly realising why the other photographers had plastic bags over their cameras, I once again retreated to my shop doorway. Sorry.