But this month is an extra-special time, as the Festa de Noantri street fair descends on the Trastevere District (one of Rome’s oldest and liveliest quarters). Why not plan your trip so it coincides with this fun festival!
The Festa de Noantri or Festa de’Nontari (in English, “Our Festival” – that is, a festival for us as opposed to one for people living in Districts) is a favourite for the Roman locals, and runs in Rome’s Trastevere District (south of Vatican City, on the Tiber’s west bank) from July 15 to July 30 to honor the Blessed Virgin of Carmel (wikipedia.com).
Similar festivals are held all over Italy (usually during July and August), but the 8-day festival in Rome seems the most enthusiastic, where all parishes, convents, and monasteries join in and the fair-like atmosphere permeates the entire district.
While today Festa de Noantri also celebrates the district’s working-class heritage, traditionally the festival, which dates back to the beginning of the 16th century, honors the “liturgical feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (one of the names by which the Catholic Church venerates Mary, mother of Jesus)”.
The myth surrounding the festival’s origin centers on the story of a time in the 1500s when fishermen were said to have trapped a statue of the Madonna in their nets during a storm. The statue, the Virgin of Carmel, was delivered to a local church and became an object of great honor and worship.
The commencement of the festival is marked by a procession led by a “bejewelled and splendidly-dressed” statue of the Virgin Mary through the Trastevere. For the following week, open-air bars, stalls, street vendors, street theater, and cultural celebrations take over the streets, and food, wine, music and dancing flow through the district.. To close the festival, a magnificent fireworks display takes place over the Tiber.