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ROME CULTURAL
GUIDE: EVERY DAY LIFE...

This Every Day Life Guide will help you understand terms, traditions, proverbs and curiosities while in Rome:
» Popular Traditions
» Regional Food and Traditional Dishes
» Roman "Proverbi", Expressions and Behaviour
» Roman Secrets and Curiosities
» Individual & Private Tours


Popular Traditions in Rome

Name: Sagre, Fiere e Feste Paesane (town fairs and festivals)

Description: these are village-feasts, festivals, fairs and particular celebrations which remind us of the original ancient traditions of celebrating the earth and special village events, especially at the beginning of a new season but also during the year. There are then “sagre” (feasts and festivals) of the: “castagne” (chestnuts), “bistecca”, “pesce” (fish, not many), “tartufo” and “tartufo bianco” (truffle and white truffle), “olio” (olive oil), “vino” (wine), “tortelli” (big raviolis), “zuppe” (different soups with bread), “pane” (bread), “patate” (potatoes), “pasta”, “fungo porcino” (“porcino mushroom), “fragole” (strawberries) and others.... Feasts, festivals, etc. usually are accompanied by music and the sale of other products of the town.
Place: they take place in all towns and villages around Rome.

Name: Festa della Madonna del Carmine

Description: this feast lasts 9 days and is dedicated to the Madonna by spectacle, stalls, shows and other different typical celebrations of the people on the streets.
Note: it takes place on July 16th.

Name: Festa della Madonna della Neve

Description: the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is one of the most important churches of Rome; it is located at the place where the legend tells of the Virgin Mary who appeared in Pope’s dreams and said that a church had to be built where it would snow… The Basilica itself was then built as it is one century later and its other two names Liberiana and Santa Maria ad Nives come from the Pope of the alleged miracle and the Virgin herself. Every year, on August 5th, white rose petals are thrown from the dome of the Chapel.

Name: Via Crucis

Description: the solemn via crucis of Rome, led by the Pope himself, starts at the Colosseum and ends at the Temple of Venus remembering Jesus’s tormented path to the Cross.

Name: Porta Pia

Description: the opening of a hole in the walls close to the Porta Pia by the General Cadorna on September 20th of 1860 signifies the beginning of the end of the war and the beginning of a new modern era for the city of Rome, for its democracy in the name of God.

Name: La Festa de Noantri

Description: it means “di noi altri”, “our” feast. The legend recalls that one day at the half of the month of July of one unspecified year some fishermen found a beautiful statue of the Virgin Mary in the river on the Trastevere side of the city and took it to the church of Sant’Agata, where it still is. Every year the district celebrates the finding, the miracle, through a procession and through street shows, popular markets, open restaurants to all the people and others, becoming “our” (the Romans’) celebration.

Name: San Giovanni

Description: a pagan celebration according to a legend which recalls that the spirit of Salomé, who cut Saint John the Baptist’ head, tormented by her action, gathered witches all around and started their devilish dances and spectacles… The princesses in the houses around were protected by their brooms, and the people of the city started to gather on the hills and eating snails, because their small horns signified conflicts; by eating the snails the people searched for reconciliation and celebrated all together the beginning of a new season, the 24th of June, in this case Summer… Today, the celebration music and chants have become traditional competitions of popular songs…

Name: Visita alle Sette Chiese

Description: the visit to the seven churches, an ancient Roman tradition, was started by Saint Filippo Neri, to mix the religious devotion before the Ascension of Christ with the popular habit of going out and having a good time with families and friends at the beginning of the good weather, on May. During and after the visit to the seven most important and beautiful churches of Rome there are music and food.. The churches are: San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Santa Maria Maggiore, San Giovanni in Laterano, San Sebastiano all'Appia Antica, San Paolo Fuori le Mura, San Pietro in Vaticano…

Name: La Befana…

Description: …is a sort of witch, who leaves presents and lots of sweets and...charcoal inside big decorative stockings, usually hanging from the fireplace of every child’s home. Why charcoal? Because children never behave perfectly well... but we also remember some white charcoal, made of sugar, to mean that our behaviour hadn’t been that bad either... In the Oriental Church, the nativity of Christ wasn’t known when in the Church of Rome it was already being celebrated the 25th of December; for this reason, the first Church decided to celebrate the date of the christening of Jesus in the Jordan, which was the 6th of January. The Epiphany (from the ancient Greek “epifania”, which means “manifestation”) substituted a pagan one dedicated to the Sun. It is then clear that this religious event sets the beginning of a new year too, like Christmas. In Rome the celebration takes place at Piazza Navona with market stalls and merry-go-rounds.

Name: La Candelora…

Description: …used to be the celebration of the purification of the Virgin Mary after her giving birth to her son. The celebration takes place by the lighting of large candles, called by the Romans as “candelora”.

Name: Carnevale Romano

Description: a people’s celebration initiated by Pope Paul II Barbo in the XV century. A colourful feisty celebration!

Name: Festa di San Giuseppe

Description: a beloved figure in Rome for ever! Saint Joseph used to be especially celebrated by the guild of artisans and carpenters. It takes place on March 19th.

Name: Festa di Pasquino…

Description: …one of the “speaking statues” of Rome, it was given life by the sarcastic Romans which used it to speak against the Popes’ injustices… It takes place on April 25th.

Name: Benedizione degli Animali

Description: …the celebration of animals, which in the past included all types of animals, including and above all those which man needed to survive and live and work. Today only domestic animal, such as dogs, cats and birds, are blessed at the church of Sat’Eusebio on January 17th.

Name: Sant’Antonio da Padova

Description: it the feast of the strawberries at Campo de’ Fiori. Another example of popular celebrations mixed with the religious anniversary of a Saint. It takes place on June 13th.

Name: Santi Pietro e Paolo

Description: both Saints are celebrated the same day, on June 29th, with a spectacular lighting of the dome of Saint Peter’s Church and the fireworks from Castel Sant’Angelo.

Name: Capodanno at Piazza del Popolo

Description: the New Year’s eve celebration at Piazza del Popolo started in 1993 and is one of the major celebrations of Rome. It hosts the best Italian and international singers and the event ends with a spectacle of fireworks.


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