By Guest Blogger Mary Jane Cryan of Elegantetruria.com
Traveling to Rome? On September 3rd, head north just 80 kilometers outside of the city to Viterbo for the Festa di Santa Rosa. Usually quiet, the charming medieval city fills with revelry and celebration for Viterbo’s patron saint Santa Rosa, circa 13th century– a highly anticipated event, akin to the Palio in Siena.
Banquets, costumed parades and a series of other events enliven the city’s piazzas and neighborhoods including San Pellegrino, considered Europe’s best preserved medieval quarter of. The high point of the festival is the spectacular nighttime procession of candles, a 750-year tradition taking place every September 3rd evening. Nighttime falls, and the city is shrouded in darkness. At 9pm, thousands of candles light the macchina, a colossal 30-meter-high tower of approximately 10,000 pounds, where atop stands a sculpture of Santa Rosa.
Once lit, one hundred facchini di Santa Rosa (porters or members of an exclusive fraternity), lift and carry the tower on a mile-long walk through the darkened city. Dressed entirely in white, the facchini are Viterbo’s popular heroes from diverse social extractions, united by the superhuman task of carrying the illuminated tower. More than 50,000 people crowd the medieval town to catch glimpses of the statue as it glides through the narrow streets, grazing buildings and balconies.
The night time procession is best seen from a balcony or window, however, if you are not able to view the procession, make sure to catch the Mini Macchina evenings or the historic costume parade with 170 costumed characters on September 2nd . Tickets for the grandstands are available only from the Fraternity of the porters of S. Rosa (Sodalizio dei Facchini) tel. 0761-325157.
Mary Jane Cryan ‘s 4th book ETRURIA travel,history
and itineraries in Central Italy has just been released and is taking her on a whirlwind press tour. To order a copy (also available as e-book) contact Mary Jane through her website elegantetruria.com .
Photos by Francesco Pignatale