• 2023.08.07
  • Il Veliero di San Pietro and weather predictions
Il Veliero di San Pietro (St. Peter's sailing ship) is a typical Ligurian tradition that our grandmothers used to follow every year but it also one of those ancient customs that are at risk of disappearing.
Its origins go back to the time when there was no weather forecast online or on television and this had to be done during the night between June 28th and 29th.
And, I'll tell you right away, don't worry: it's doable even today, it's very simple and fun.

The custom is to fill a carafe, a glass jar or a transparent vase with water and then break an egg and drop the egg white into it, right in the middle. You don't have to stir it, just place the container on the windowsill outside the window, in the garden or in a space outside on the night between June 28th and 29th. (What is important is that the dew can get inside and do its trick!)
Tradition has it that Saint Peter the Apostle, originally a fisherman by trade, would blow inside the containers making a sailing ship appear and thus demonstrating his existence and closeness to the people. The following morning, formations similar to sailboats or sailing ships should be found in the water at the bottom of the container.
These methods were also used to understand what the weather conditions would have been in the days following June 29th, a very important indicator for a good harvest in the fields and therefore for the sustenance of the families of both sailors and farmers.
Open sails of the "ships" would indicate sunny days, narrow and upwards sails would instead indicate rainy days to follow. A nice sailing ship in general would instead promise a good fertile year to follow meaning that the greater the shape of the boat, the more positive the ‘omen’ would be.
The bubbles that would form on the surface instead shall indicate prosperity in general.
Explanation and spoiler: according to tradition, it would be Saint Peter himself who designed the boat, with its masts and sails, but science suggests that the difference in temperature between day and night, sometimes even very strong in this period, causes changes in the state of the egg white, making it more or less dense than water and therefore causing it to sink in or move up, depending on the external temperatures, hotter in the evening and in the morning and colder at night.
Basically, the egg white would sink during the night, with the cold weather, forming the masts of the boat and then, in the morning, with the air warming up again, it would slowly rise again forming the sails.
The elderly warn that the experiment works better if the carafe is placed on a lawn or in a vegetable garden because the soil undergoes the same variations while on the window or on the balcony, the effect would be more reduced.


Il Veliero di San Pietro

Saint Peter has a church dedicated to him in Genoa and such church overlooks the sea since he used to be a fisherman.
This area also welcomes the traditional Fiera di San Pietro, a multicolored market with hundreds of stalls offering various goods for sale such as antiques, sweets, toys and vintage items.
The gardens here are an incredible viewpoints for the fireworks on the night of June 29th.

This year, I have not seen the fireworks but I have done the ‘sailing ship’ tradition.
Although I have never been able to interpret it well, I've decided to do it simply because it's a nice local tradition and one that my young son enjoys.

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  • Patrizia Margherita
  • AgeMonkey( SARU )
  • GenderFemale
  • Jobtranslator, interpreter, teacher

Although she was born in Italy, she is half Italian and half American and she has become a "multicultural person" who can speak five languages. She has lived and worked in the US, Brazil, Australia, France and the UK so she considers herself a citizen of the world. When she is not teaching or translating, she likes cooking Italian food, hiking and traveling around the world...She has traveled to 80 countries and counting!

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