Get Out: Viterbo’s Festa di Santa Rosa

Events, What's New — By Erica Firpo on August 26, 2010 at 10:39 pm

By Guest Blogger Mary Jane Cryan of

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 2ndTickets 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 .

Photos by Francesco Pignatale

Tags: Events, Get Out, Italy


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