Before arriving in Italy, my wonderful Italian grandfather tried to explain to me how each Town in Italy worshiped a particular saint. For me, this concept was foreign, one that I was not used to- having grown up in a busy American beach town. However,I was fortunate enough to arrive in Italy the day before the beautiful festival for Viterbo’s saint, Santa Rosa. When I arrived, Viterbo was at its busiest, families gathered along the main piazzas, lining chairs and preparing to wait for nightfall when the beautiful statue would be walked and paraded through the narrow Italian streets. For months, craftsman worked day and night to build the three story tall statue carved beautiful in Whitestone with the graceful Saint, Santa Rosa, at the top. Joining my host family to watch the parade at one of the main piazzas, piazza Fontana grande, I was lucky enough to have a wonderful front row seat to the festivities. At sunset, a parade began with an instrument band beautifully dressed in medieval costumes. A wonderful flag throwing routine shortly followed where members danced and tossed their colorful flags in the air to music and the cheers of the crowds. The parade members marched through out the entire town as locals cheered and sang their national Italian song. By 9 PM, darkness fell upon the streets. Threw the heads in the crowded streets, a light begin to appear slowly, while silence swept throughout the town. Beginning from Porta Romana, an organized assembly of Viterbo’s strongest men began their march. On top of their shoulders, the sacred pillar of Santa Rosa. The hundreds of photos and videos I took came no where near the beauty I felt and witnessed at this sacred festival. As the statue slowly inched closer to our reach, the immense details of the structure came full focus. The carefully crafted sculpture was decorated generously with lit candles, of which stood as the only guided light against the night.
Every so often the men would stop to exchange positions with a new group of chosen carriers. During this time of transition, the crowds remained exceptionally quiet, as to it distract the men from carefully holding the statue. After the new men had a steady hold of the Santa Rosa pillar, the crowd would abrupt into cheers and wild applause.
The festival of Santa Rosa is an experience I will forever hold onto deeply.
Zelda is an Environmental Science student from California who is currently studying abroad in Italy. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, photography and painting. In addition to attending school in Italy, she also manages a travel blog where she documents her experience abroad and discusses culture, food, and her adventures.
Zelda è un’americana della California. Studia Environmental Science e abita in Italia. Quando ha del tempo libero, le piace cucinare, fotografare e dipingere. Inoltre ha un blog, dove descrive la sua vita in Italia.