Friday, July 17, 2009

Viva Santa Rosalia! Palermo's patron saint!

On Wednesday, we had the pleasure of being in town for the biggest summer festival in Palermo, that which celebrates their patron saint (and I'm told that Italians are very serious about their saints). Palermo's saint is named Santa Rosalia who was born in 1130 AD and is the patron saint of Palermo and a few other cities. Apparently she was a noble, but then retired to live as a hermit in a cave. In 1624, Palermo was haunted by a horrible plague and Santa Rosalia appeared as a vision to several and ordered them to bring her bones from the cave and have them put on procession through the city. After this, the plague ceased... and thus the big festino every year on July 15th commerating her. The entire city center was closed off and we spilled onto the streets with what seemed to be all of Palermo. There were gorgeous lights and archways hung all over the street and we made our way slowly to the start of the parade, the cathedral. Our excellent guides were two doctors, fellows, from IsMeTT who defintely were in the know on how to experience the festino... Sicilian style!
The gathering place where the parade started. They brought in fountains and beautiful lighting, it was totally tranformed from the dusty and littered plaza the day before.This year's theme was "Woman", pretty broad.. but I'm sure something got lost in translation. In any case, power to the women and they had these awesome dancers floating from BALLOONS! This is the stuff my dreams are made of, but in stead (probably violating many safety codes), the Palermitans had filled over a hundered or so huge balloons with helium and were able to suspend two dancers in the air! It was really a magical site.

With so many people out on the streets and basically trailing, following, the huge float of Santa Rosalia, we had to shuffle about and run to escape being trapped ina huge confusing, chaotic crowd. Here we met up with the float again the big intersection of the city which is surrounded by 4 fountains!

We then made our way slowly to the waterfront, where the parade would end and where the fireworks would be launched. While waiting for the fireworks, we were able to experience the local Palermitan speciality "sfincioni" an interesting bread heavy pizza with light sweet sauce on top. You should defintely check out Xiao's posting about the local delicacies of Sicily, some are yak-tastic, a great read!

Xiao, Dan, Francesca, and Giuseppe with the Sficioni! Yum, greasy goodness!

And the fireworks, oh the fireworks! They were gorgeous, shot right in front of us (probably some of the closest fireworks I've ever viewed in my life) and above and beyond awesome. They lasted 30 minutes and we ohhed and ahhed endlessly, what a perfect perfect end to the night!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This feast is fantastic, indeed. I ''ve lin in Plaermo for a couple of years and since July 15th became one of my favourite days. Reading your descriptions I recalled all these nice images, odoure and feeling and I would like to thank you for this.