The religious traditions are deeply rooted in the Italian culture, especially in the southern part of the country. In Italy, there is no village, town or city that doesn’t have a day of celebration dedicated to its patron saint.

Moreover, Italy has many saints, from the famous ones – the Madonna, the Redeemer, Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Anthony of Padua, Saint Nicholas of Bari, to the lesser known local saints, such as Saint Orontius, Saint Rainerius or Saint Fortunatus.

On the occasion of the feast dedicated to its patron saint, as an act of faith and devotion, the whole town gathers with enthusiasm to celebrate him. Some of the patronal feasts in Italy are purely religious celebrations, but others include profane customs, which appeared over time to amuse and entertain the people.

Let’s discover below this particular form of popular devotion and the most spectacular religious feasts in Italy in 2023!


10. LUMINARA DI SAN RANIERI – June 16, 2023, Pisa


Luminara di San Ranieri

The Luminara of Saint Rainerius is a candlelight festival in Pisa, which takes place every year on June 16, in honor of the city’s patron saint. Saint Rainerius was born in Pisa around 1115, and, after he stayed several years in the Holy Land, he returned to Pisa, where he became a preacher and performed miracles.

On the occasion of the feast, the city lights up with thousands of candles, creating an evocative and unique atmosphere that seems to bring the visitors back in time.

Each year, on June 16, approximately 100,000 candles placed on wooden frames outline the architectural forms of the palaces, bridges, churches and towers located on the banks of the Arno River. Later in the evening, many of the candles are placed on the river, creating an enchanting play of lights and reflections.


9. FESTA DELLA MADONNA BIANCA – August 17, 2023, Portovenere


Festa della Madonna Bianca

The Feast of the White Madonna is a religious feast which takes place every year on August 17, in Portovenere, in honor of the White Madonna, the patron saint of the town.

The Feast of the White Madonna recalls the miracle of 1399, when, according to legend, during the French occupation, the seaside village of Portovenere was struck by plague. Once the plague was over, the miracle was attributed to the Virgin Mary.

On this occasion, in the evening, a torchlight procession unfolds along the streets of the town, carrying the icon of the White Madonna. The town is lit by about 2000 roman torches, placed mainly on the rocky spur of Punta San Pietro.


8. FESTA DI SAN NICOLA – May 7-9, 2023, Bari


Festa di San Nicola

The Feast of Saint Nicholas is a religious celebration which takes place every year in Bari, during the month of May, for three consecutive days.

The feast is dedicated to Nicholas of Myra, also known as Nicholas of Bari, an early Christian bishop of Greek descent, who is the patron saint of children, and who gave rise to the tradition of Santa Claus, a character also known outside the Christian world.

On May 7, a historical parade is held during the evening. On May 8, takes place the solemn procession in which the statue of the Saint is carried to Molo San Nicola, and then transported into the sea by a procession of boats. On May 9, following the Eucharistic celebration held in Piazza del Ferrarese, the holy Manna of Saint Nicholas is officially collected in the crypt of the Basilica of Saint Nicholas.


7. SCOPPIO DEL CARRO – April 9, 2023, Florence


Scoppio del Carro

The Explosion of the Cart is a religious ceremony in Florence, which takes place every year on the Easter morning.

The ceremony dates back to 1099, when the First Crusade was launched to free the city of Jerusalem. According to legend, a soldier from Florence named Pazzino was the one who placed a Christian flag on the walls of the Holy City.

On April 9, on the Easter morning, a pyrotechnical tower placed on a cart is pulled by oxen on the streets of the historical center of Florence, escorted by soldiers, musicians and people dressed in 15th century period costumes, and positioned between the Baptistery of Saint John and the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.

At 11.00 am, the archbishop of the city lights a dove-shaped rocket from the altar of the cathedral, which, through a cord mechanism, runs through the central nave of the church and reaches the cart outside, causing it to explode.


6. FESTA DI SANTA LUCIA – December 13, 2023, Syracuse


Festa di Santa Lucia

The Feast of Saint Lucia takes place two times a year in Syracuse, in honor of the patron saint of the city. The feast on December 13 commemorates the martyrdom of the saint, while the Feast of Saint Lucia of the Quails (Festa di Santa Lucia delle Quaglie), held in May, recalls the miracle occured in 1646, when the city passed through a serious famine.

Lucia of Syracuse was a martyr who died during the time of the Roman Emperor Diocletian and his persecution of Christians. She is venerated as a saint by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and Orthodox churches.

On this occasion, the statue of the saint is carried in procession from the Cathedral of Syracuse, located on the island of Ortygia, to the Church of Santa Lucia al Sepolcro, located on the mainland. The procession is followed by an 18th-century carriage, with costumed characters in the 18th century style. Many people, holding candles, make the journey barefoot, as a sign of thanksgiving.


5. FESTA DELLA BRUNA – July 2, 2023, Matera


Religious Feasts in Italy - Festa della Madonna della Bruna

The Feast of the Madonna della Bruna is a religious festival held every year in Matera since 1389, in honor of the Madonna della Bruna, the patron saint of the city.

The feast begins on July 2, at 5.00 am, with a Holy Mass held in Piazza San Francesco d’Assisi, followed by the Procession of the Shepherds. Later, the statue of the Madonna is carried in procession from the Cathedral of Matera to the parish of Piccianello. The knights, dressed in medieval costumes, accompany the statue.

In the afternoon, the chariot with the statue of the Madonna della Bruna returns to the cathedral, and the statue is placed inside the church. Once the religious part of the feast is over, the pagan custom begins. The chariot is taken to Piazza Vittorio Veneto, where it is destroyed by the crowd.


4. FESTA DI SAN GENNARO – September 19, 2023, Naples


Festa di San Gennaro

The Feast of Saint Januarius is a religious celebration in Naples, held every year on September 19, to commemorate the martyrdom of the saint, and one of the most beloved religious feasts in Italy.

The cult of San Gennaro started long before his sanctification, which took place only in 1586. The devotion to the saint is closely linked to the cult of his relics, kept in a crypt of the Cathedral of Naples.

On September 19, in the morning, the Cardinal of the city enters the Chapel of the Treasury, where the relics of San Gennaro are kept, to pick up the ampoule with the saint’s blood. The religious service culminates with the liquefaction of his blood.

The ampoule remains on display for the following 8 days, during which the streets of the historical center of Naples are crowded with food stalls, and all kinds of concerts and shows take place.


3. FESTA DI SANTA ROSALIA – July 10-15, 2023, Palermo


Festa di Santa Rosalia

The Feast of Saint Rosalia is one of the most important religious feasts in Sicily, officially recognized as an intangible heritage of Italy by the Central Institute for Demo-Ethno-Anthropology.

The feast is dedicated to Saint Rosalia, also called La Santuzza (Little Saint), the patron saint of Palermo, and it commemorates the miraculous appearances of the saint from 1624, when the city was hit by plague.

Every year, the festival lasts six days, with the first three days being reserved for the preparation of the great procession held on the evening of July 14.

The procession starts in front of the Cathedral of Palermo, and ends near the sea, culminating with an impressive firework display. The central point of the procession is a vessel-shaped chariot, built different every year, carrying the statue of Saint Rosalia. The chariot is ten meters high and almost as long, decorated with roses and angels, and pulled by oxen.


2. FESTA DI SANT’AGATA – February 3-5, 2023, Catania


Festa di Sant'Agata

The Feast of Saint Agatha is a religious celebration in Catania, dedicated to Saint Agatha, the patron saint of the city, and probably the most important religious feast in the southern Italy.

The saint is celebrated in Catania twice a year – the feast held in February commemorates the martyrdom of the Saint, while the Summer Feast of Saint Agatha, held on August 17, celebrates the return of her remains to Catania.

In February, around one million people come from all over Sicily to attend the feast, which is comparable with the Holy Week in Seville, Spain, or the Feast of Corpus Domini in Cuzco, Peru.

On the second day of the feast, the remains of Saint Agatha, which are kept in the Cathedral of Catania, are placed in a silver palanquin weighing almost 3 tons, and carried in procession throughout the city. The procession lasts the whole day.


1. FESTA DEL REDENTORE – July 15-16, 2023, Venice


Religious Feasts in Italy - Festa del Redentore

The Feast of the Redeemer, one of the most important events in the Venetian calendar and the most spectacular religious festival in Italy, takes place every year in the third weekend of July. The feast commemorates a moment from the year 1577, when Venice was liberated from a terrible plague which killed about one-third of the city’s population.

At first, the feast was a purely religious event, but over the centuries profane elements were added to the religious manifestations, and today the celebration includes a party, a regatta, and one of the most impressive fireworks display in the world.

On the first day of the feast, a great party is held, completed in the evening by the spectacular fireworks display. The second day of the feast, Sunday, is reserved for religious service and for the Regatta of the Redeemer (Regata del Redentore), a race of typical Venetian boats.