St Peter and Paul’s Curse

St Peter and Paul’s Curse

Those who attended the Circeo during the years of its tourist boom will surely have felt advised, at least once, not to bathe on the days of St. Peter and Paul, under penalty of drowning.

It is a popular belief , probably born in the years immediately prior to the Second World War, when the long dune that connected the Circeo to Terracina, at that time uncontaminated, was reached by the first tourists attracted by the reclamation of the marshes .

Then, like today, June 29 marked the beginning of the holidays and the improvement of economic conditions also led many workers to reach the “summer colonies” where the boys went to spend a few days in the sun.

It happened that, imprudently, someone threw himself into freshly eaten water or tried the thrill of the waves not being a good swimmer. In both cases these “first times” ended in a tragic way.

Still only 30 or 40 years ago the chronicles of the last days of June often reported misfortunes that occurred on the Lazio coast and the Circeo was no exception. What was peculiar at the time was the fact that the Sanfeliciano did not generally know how to swim. The Sanfelico culture, in fact, was predominantly peasant and the sea was viewed with distrust, because from there for centuries all sorts of dangers had come: pirates, invaders, raids and, sometimes, even diseases. It is not strange therefore that San Felice is the only place where predictable misfortunes due to imprudence have been linked to a curse and a tribute in human lives that the sea claimed at the beginning of the season: a sort of human sacrifice in exchange for well-being by those tourists who were, in fact, the only victims of their recklessness.

A summer storm ahead of the Maga Circe hotel (1962, photo by Riccardo Moro)

Today no one believes that curse anymore, but the Sanfelic grandparents this morning certainly approached their grandchildren and recommended that they not swim in the sea. The last, tender sign of a lost peasant culture.

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