Photo of Macchina New for 2009 - All rights reserved by PaPier66
Yes September 3rd is a very important date in the local calendar as it is when the transport of La Macchina di Santa Rosa takes place annually. It is apparently an event unique in the world; the existing Macchina is approx 100 feet in height and weighs around 5 tons. The legend as to the existence of the Macchina is fascinating, in brief Santa Rosa was a young girl who lived in the first half of the thirteenth century, whom thanks to her abilities and prophesies was made a Saint. The cult of Santa Rosa saw the creation of an annual procession which re-evoked the removal of her body from a church in Viterbo to the convent.
The memory of this youthful Saint is perpetuated by the unique ceremony held in her honour on the evening of September 3rd every year. This event consists of a procession in which the “machine” dedicated to Santa Rosa is carried on the shoulders of hundreds of strong young men of Viterbo, along the streets of the historic town centre for about half a mile. The Macchina sparkles with the lights that decorate it, the large watching crowds line the streets, where they are wide enough and applaud it. The macchina is carried by 130 Viterbesi men at a time, known as Facchini dressed in white with red scarves, for each stage of the route from Porta Romana along a route of the major streets of Viterbo, concluding with a strenuous climb up to the Piazza di Santa Rosa, its final resting place. Each Macchina has a life span of around five or six years, after which a new one is designed and built after a competition has taken place to pick the designer. They seem to have got bigger over the years and are these days around 30metres in height and weighs around three plus tons.
It is a touching and important annual spectacle for the locals. It is impossible to describe properly, you need to see for yourself and be there to get caught in the emotion of the moment. Some years but not every year we go ourselves to experience the atmosphere first hand. Last time we were lucky enough to have the most fantastic view of the proceedings thanks to an invitation to view from a friend’s family owned shop.
Understandably the town is heaving with humanity for this event and one needs to get there early to get a good viewing point and find somewhere to park outside the city walls. It is estimated that the crowds attending normally number over fifty thousand people.
Two years ago there was a noticeably increased police activity because Viterbo was honoured with the presence of Berlusconi. We read in the newspaper the next day that he received a ‘standing ovation’ when he promised the commune that Viterbo Airport will definitely be going ahead. As a side note some progress but not much as been made since that promise.
It is a long evening but well worth the time waiting, just for that fantastic emotional sight when the Macchina passes by your viewing point! The atmosphere is one of a party. The procession is supposed to start at 9pm but in 2008, thanks to Berlusconi did not get underway until after 10pm! The first outing for the current 'Macchina Santa Rosa' was last year, in 2009.
The day after this event is a local public holiday for Viterbo and the streets of the city are host to the largest street market I have ever seen. It seems to sell everything you could possibly need or want, plus all those things you do not need. We often go along as also on show is the ‘Macchina Santa Rosa’ at the Monastery, well worth viewing close up. It looks so different in the daylight.
Macchina 2008 Model- Last appearance for this one.
Macchina 2009 Model- First appearance.
Close up of detail on the current Macchina.
A trip down memory lane, a photograph I took in 2004.
This is a truly amazing event and definitely worth seeing, the experience of actually being there is actually very emotional. The Italians really do put their heart and soul into events such as this.
This year we were unable to attend in person but we were still able to enjoy the experience through the medium of television. We were having supper at a local restaurant where we were able to enjoy watching the Santa Rosa Macchina Procession with other customers on the television. Everyone entered into the spirit of the occasion even if we were not actually there. Great fun.
If you are interested in seeing my photos from previous years they can be found in My Flickr Albums
We know an American couple who attended the Procession on Friday evening and found it to be an amazing experience. They are spending a year in Italy and are writing a blog about their experiences. Our Year In Italy If you do not already know this blog do visit this post to see what they have to say about La Macchina di Santa Rosa.
Macchina Santa Rosa 2010 - Partenza da piazza del teatro - Leaving the theatre square.
Courtesy of mrkoch
I also found this excellent video on YouTube of this years procession taken just as the Macchina Santa Rosa was about to start its final ascent. It is just over two minutes long and well worth watching if you are able to do so as you will get a real feeling of the atmosphere in Viterbo on the evening of September 3rd 2010.
Finally here is a picture of the hill that the Macchina was just about to climb in that video! This was taken the day after the event last year when it is possible to go and view the Macchina close up, which as you have seen from my photos above, it is quite amazing.