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Monday, May 17, 2010

Festa della Madonna del Monte - 14 Maggio 2010


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.

6.00 am: At the shrine of Our Lady of the Mount, holy mass is  celebrated.

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.




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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/


  1. Linda, your fotos are terrific. Wish we could have come to the festa. We did get to the Pugnaloni Festa yesterday though, on our return trip from Siena. The festa was magnificant, and the sbandieratori were amazing. Would just love it if the weather would cooperate a little.

  2. Thanks Carol, it seems that despite the weather you managed to have a good weekend as well. It is never normally like this in May :(

  3. What a lovely festival. I love all of these festivals that are so unique to every town or village. There is always something going on. I wanted to go to the Festa dei Ceri in Gubbio on Saturday but the weather was just so miserable. When is it going to stop raining??

  4. Oh this looks like such a fabulous event! Love the floats and parade participants, and you are so right to have said that these are the sort of things that make it so wonderful to live in Italy. Already looking forward to fall's events (as it seems that summer is simply not going to arrive in these parts).

  5. I've been hopping from blog to blog and I found yours - hello!

    This festival looks grand! Nice photos.

    I'm an American expat living in UK. It's nice to read about other people living in a home away from home. :)

  6. I loved reading this, and seeing the photoes. I find these kind of festivals so fascinating! Thanks, Linda!

  7. Oh that looks and sounds like such fun! You may never have been up at 4.30 a.m. to see the beginning of the procession but I bet you were woken up by the fireworks, drums and bells! Or are you just a bit too far out for that? Anyway, it sounds terrific - it would be so nice to have things like that here! Mainland Europe does seem to have lovely festas and so forth. Perhaps we could lobby for a Running of the Bulls through Dorking.....what do you think?!!!

  8. In America there are only a few seasonal traditions - too bad. Traditions becomes foundations that unite a commmunity, etc.
    Thank you for posting the events.
    Loved the picture of the children sharing the umbrella and wearing their scarfs.
    Glad to see that the work is progressing on "the street where you live." (isn't that a song?)
    It looks like they are doing a very nice job.
    Have a wonderful week, Lindy Lou

  9. Thanks for visiting my blog. This fiesta sounds like great fun and the pictures bring it all to life. You are obviously as happy out of the UK as we are! I want to visit Italy, but it will only be after my husband retires. The little leave he gets is very special for us to be together in our home in France at present. My hair dresser from S.Africa is Italian and he has now returned there, I would love to see him again. Diane

  10. How marvelous this is, Linda! Thank you so, so much for all the detail and the photos. It makes it possible experience something that I probably will never get to in person. Have a great rest of the week. – g

  11. Sarah Elizabeth - it has been the wettest spring since we arrived here in 2004! These local festas are one of the many things I especially enjoy about life in Italy.
    Rowena -Please, summer has just shifted this year!
    Paige - Welcome and thankyou, hope to see you here again.
    Talli - Glad you enjoyed the post.
    Maggie - Too far out of Marta fortunately and great idea for Dorking!
    Mya - We actually live just outside Marta, but also own a little holiday house right on the lakeside, for the use of family and friends.
    Diane - We most certainly are happy here, bet you cannot wait for your husband's retirement. Maybe you can come and visit us in Italy one day?
    Georgianna - That is one of the things I find so great about the world of Blogging being able to experience life around the globe so easily.

  12. Linda , Had a great time reading your blog , and admiring the photos We have had rain , and wind ,too .Love , Joyce .

  13. Linda, what extraordinary photos....I feel as if I am right there witnessing this. I am also in tears as I have never visited Italy. Thank you for letting me live vicariously through you and your blog. Blessings, Roz (aka bella)

  14. Joyce and bella -Sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your kind comments, so glad you enjoy a little bit of Italy via my blog.


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