The Festa in celebration of the Madonna of the Mount is held in Marta annually on May 14th. Also known locally as the Barabbata or Broom Festa. The streets are decorated with broom and during the festivities broom petals are scattered, often by young women onto the good looking young men in the procession which is strictly males only!
This spectacular spring festival has taken place in Marta for centuries. It consists of noisy and colourful processions that take place throughout the day, composed of local males that work the land and the lake professionally. Farmers, fisherman and all the associated professions, bakers, cheese-makers, wine producers etc. Many different local organisations and businesses participate with floats that parade through the streets displaying their offerings from the land and the lake.
Throughout the day various celebrations and masses take place in thanksgiving for the produce that the land and lake has provided over the last year. When the floats eventually arrive at the little church of the Madonna del Monte a special rite of thanksgiving takes place, which involves, entering and exiting the church three times.
I will give you an outline of the programme which started at 4.30am, yes really. I confess to never having been up early enough to witness this event but I know of those who have done so.
4.30am: Sunrise is greeted with fireworks, drums, church bells and a parade with a choir that starts in Via Laterza and proceeds around the centro storico.
9.00 am: Parade of the Marta town band who will accompany the procession.
9.30 am: The parade of floats, led by locals on horseback, through the town and onwards uphill to the church of the Madonna del Monte.
11.30 am: On arrival at the church a holy mass is conducted. After the religious ceremony the rite of passing in and out of the church three times takes place.
17.00 pm: At the sound of more drums, there is a parade of horses and riders and others involved in the ceremonies to a local location for the consumption of traditional refreshments.
19.30 pm :Piazza Umberto I: A live lottery/Bingo game takes place, for prize money this year of EUR 1050.00
22.30 pm: Fireworks by the lakeside
We participated in the Festa from just before 9am which meant that we were able to find a little parking space for the Smart car just outside the main centre having arrived before the road into Marta was closed. This is a big local event for which people arrive from all over the Viterbo region including at least six coaches I counted this year!
As we were there early I was able to walk along the lakeside before the procession started and watch the last minute preparations for the parade, which is always interesting as one gets a real close up view of the floats.
At this point the rain was still holding off and it was drizzling during the first part of the parade. As you will see from my photographs it did start to rain harder during the procession but luckily the heaviest rain held off, at least until they had passed by our viewpoint in the main square. I think though that by the time the mass was over there must have been some very wet participants.
After the parade had passed us I must admit we dived for cover and a much needed cafe and cappuccino in the little bar we frequent. Chatting to the locals we learnt that this is the first time it has rained on May 14th since 1981, twenty- nine years ago!
It continued to rain all weekend, so although we went out for a Pizza with friends on Friday evening there were no fireworks to watch afterwards, which had been the plan. It was just too wet, so they were sensibly postponed, we hear they may have been rescheduled for next weekend, when hopefully the weather will have settled down.
As a point of interest for those of you that know our little holiday house, bear in mind that if you ever stay there at this time of the year, you are going to be disturbed. The first procession of the day at 4.30am passes right outside and there is no hope of not being woken by the drums!
As usual I took far too many photographs for me to share them all with you here, so if you are interested in seeing more, click on the link. http://www.flickr.com/photos/mctumble/sets/72157623941658229/