An important festival on the Rome events calendar, the Festa di Noantri in Trastevere, is a religious celebration that dates back to the beginning of the 16th century. It is held in celebration of the Lady of Mount Carmel and takes place on the first Saturday after July 16th every year.
On the day of the festival, a richly dressed statue of the Virgin Mary is taken in a procession through the streets around the Church of Saint Agatha and on towards the Basilica of San Crisogono. The statue is an ancient one, supposedly discovered in the Tiber in 1535. She was donated to the Carmelites at Crisogono, where she became the patron saint of Trastevere.
In 1890 she was moved to another local church, Saint Agatha. The return procession includes a journey across the Tiber, to commemorate the site of discovery of the image. The statue is taken in a boat from near Villa Giulia to Ponte San Angelo, where more people join the procession; to move towards the Ponte Sisto, Isola Tiberina and from thereon to Trastevere’s most important church, Santa Maria.
The statue is then brought back to its home in the Church of Saint Agatha, on the following Monday. Numerous religious orders take part in the procession, including the ancient brotherhood from Trastevere, Arciconfraternita di Santa Maria dell’Oro and the Carmelite and Trinitarian fraternities. Over the years, new traditions have joined the old in the Festa di Noantri and since the 1920s, music and theatrical performances have been incorporated into the celebrations. Later on, puppet and street shows were added. The Festa di Noantri is a spectacle well worth seeing, and is full of light and colour.