The Feast of Santa Rosalia in Palermo, one of the most long-awaited events of the year, celebrates its 400th anniversary with an extraordinary festival. This religious and cultural festival, dedicated to Palermo's patron saint, offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the city's rich history and traditions. Whether you are attracted by the allure of the traditional parade of floats or the promise of a unique experience in the Palermo scene, the Festino is a testament to the island's meeting of culture and history, an event that unites the entire city as well as thousands of believers and tourists from around the world in a whirlwind of excitement, faith and tradition



Palermo is preparing to host a very special edition of the Festino di Santa Rosalia, the city's patron saint. This year, in fact, marks the 400th anniversary of the discovery of her relics, an event that marked the end of the terrible plague epidemic that afflicted the city in 1624. To celebrate this extraordinary anniversary, the Festino program will be even richer and more evocative, with events and initiatives involving the entire city.

A full calendar of entertainment awaits us, including shows, exhibitions, concerts, food and wine tours, conferences and spiritual walks through which the city of Palermo and its territory will be told to visitors.

A multi-voiced narrative that will pay tribute to the priceless cultural, historical and scenic heritage of Palermo, embraced by the sea and protected by Monte Pellegrino, where the Sanctuary of Santa Rosalia, a renowned pilgrimage destination for the faithful, resides. 

The appointment with tradition comes on July 14 with "Il Festino di Santa Rosalia": every year thousands of faithful and visitors arrive from all over the world to take part in the procession that begins its route from the Royal Palace, then stops in front of the Cathedral, crosses the Quattro Canti and reaches Porta Felice where the final show takes place, concluded by the traditional and spectacular fireworks

The next day, July 15, however, is the Solemn Procession along in Cassaro on the day the mortal remains of the Santuzza were found. 

But the most evocative moment of the Feast is held on the night of September 3 to 4: "L'acchianata delle Rosalie": on foot or barefoot, with lifelong friends or family, for the people of Palermo this night means only one thing: acchianata.

As early as 8 a.m. on Sept. 3 and into the night of Sept. 4, devotees set out on a pilgrimage along Monte Pellegrino to the shrine of Santa Rosalia, the city's patron saint. 

A popular-religious rite that has been held for centuries to arrive at the Shrine of Santa Rosalia to share a moment of prayer and celebration.

The story behind the figure of Saint Rosalie

St. Rosalie, born into nobility in 1130, defied expectations. A powerful vision led her to abandon a prearranged marriage and embrace a life dedicated to God. She first sought refuge in a convent, but her yearning for solitude drew her to a remote cave on Mount Quisquina. Her piety attracted followers, but their presence disrupted the quiet contemplation she craved.

Driven by her desire for complete isolation, St. Rosalie relocated to a hidden cave on Mount Pellegrino. There, she spent the rest of her life in devout prayer and penance, earning the reverence of the people who considered her a saint even before her death in 1170.

Centuries later, in 1624, during a devastating plague, St. Rosalie reappeared in a vision, offering salvation in exchange for a proper burial. Her remains were miraculously discovered, and she was officially canonized. St. Rosalie became a central figure of faith for Palermo, particularly during times of health crises, including the recent COVID-19 pandemic.


The magnificence of Festino

On the day of the Feast of Santa Rosalia, Palermo is transformed into a riot of faith, tradition and celebration. The streets fill with devout people celebrating their patron saint and taking the opportunity to ask for graces and miracles. The atmosphere is electrifying, with music, songs and colors invading every corner of the city.

At the heart of the festivities stands the magnificent Santa Rosalia float, an allegorical masterpiece towering at an impressive 11 meters tall and adorned with intricate decorations. It is paraded through the streets of Cassaro amidst the vibrant sounds of bands and the lively rhythms of folk groups. Seeing this immense tribute to the patron saint is an experience that moves and fascinates everyone present, who for the occasion are adorned with roses, a symbol of devotion and purity.

In addition to the float, the Festino offers a rich program of events celebrating Palermo's history, culture and traditions. One of the most striking to date has certainly been the video mapping on the Cathedral: a visual telling of the history of the city, the plague and Santa Rosalia through breathtaking images and sounds. A collective work of art created by the talented students of the Academy of Fine Arts of Palermo, it paid tribute to the patron saint in an innovative, engaging and touching way. 


Videomapping Santa Rosalia 2022 Palermo


The culinary tradition for Santa Rosalia

The Santa Rosalia Festival is a vibrant tapestry of religious devotion, captivating processions and, of course, a symphony of delicious flavors. Deeply rooted in Palermo's rich history and culture, the festival's culinary traditions offer a tantalizing glimpse into the soul of the city. 

At the heart of the festival is a delicious range of street foods and traditional dishes, each with a unique story to tell. 

One of the most popular dishes is Pasta con le Sarde, a pasta with fresh sardines, wild fennel, pine nuts, raisins, and saffron. 

For a taste of Palermo's iconic street food, of course, Sfincione, a thick, fluffy flatbread generously topped with tomatoes, anchovies, grated caciocavallo cheese, and a sprinkling of oregano, but also all the other typical street food delights, such as arancine and panelle, that fuel the festive spirit as you follow the procession through the vibrant streets.

For a touch of freshness, many opt for watermelon: the quintessential summer fruit that offers a refreshing break during the hot July days in Palermo.


Beyond the Island's Boundaries

The devotion to St. Rosalia, Palermo's patron saint, extends beyond the island's borders, carried by Sicilian emigration. Here's a glimpse into how her feast is celebrated in the US:

New Orleans (September 4th): The heart of American devotion explodes with a vibrant procession, music, and prayers, culminating in a mass at St. Louis Cathedral.

Chicago (September 15th): A solemn mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, sometimes followed by a procession, honors the saint.

New York (Bensonhurst, late Aug-early Sept): A festive celebration includes a procession, mass, concerts, folk shows, and even a "Cannoli Race" to crown the best pastry chef.


The statue of Santa Rosalia at the festival dedicated to the patron saint of Palermo held in Brooklyn (Facebook Photo/Jessica Ann)


Devotion to Santa Rosalia, patron saint of Palermo, has also found fertile ground in Spain, thanks to historical and cultural ties between the two nations. Her figure is venerated in several Spanish cities, where her feast day is celebrated with heartfelt devotion and a mix of Sicilian and Spanish traditions.

Seville (September 4th): A mass is held at the Church of San Nicolás de Bari, where a relic of the saint is kept.

Madrid (September 15th): A procession winds through the Lavapiés neighborhood, with a large Sicilian community, culminating in a mass at the Church of San Nicolás de Bari.

Barcelona (September 4th): A solemn mass is celebrated at the Church of Santa María del Mar.

In addition to the solemn masses and processions, some Spanish cities also hold other events in honor of Santa Rosalia, such as concerts, folk shows and food stands. These events are an opportunity for the Sicilian communities of Spain to come together, share their traditions and strengthen ties with their homeland.


A unique way to enjoy beautiful Palermo 

Experiencing the Festino di Santa Rosalia in Palermo is an experience beyond imagination. It is a headlong plunge into a sea of faith, tradition and breathtaking beauty. The city is transformed into an enchanting stage, where sacred and profane intertwine in a whirlwind of emotions.

With Absolute Sicilia, this experience becomes even more special. Not only will you have the opportunity to stay in the best luxury resorts in the city, but you will be taken on an authentic journey of discovery, like a true Palermo resident. You will be able to immerse yourself in the evocative atmosphere of the Festino, enjoying every nuance of this unique event.

You will be enraptured by folk songs and dances and savor the delicious flavors of traditional Sicilian cuisine. You'll admire the solemn procession of the Saint, a moment of deep emotion and devotion, and you'll feel an integral part of a community that lives its faith and traditions with great transport.

Experiencing the Festino of Santa Rosalia with Absolute Sicilia means entering the beating heart of Palermo, capturing its truest and most authentic soul. It is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in a culture rich in history, charm and spirituality. An experience that will leave an indelible mark on your heart and memories.


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