Festa de’ Noantri: the story of an ancient religious festival in Rome

Annual procession held on the streets of Trastevere every July.

Rome is awash with religious traditions however few are as popular as the Festa de' Noantri which has attracted large crowds every summer for almost 500 years.

The festival, which dates back to the early 16th century, is based between two churches in Trastevere, one of Rome's oldest and most characteristic quarters.

Central to the annual event, whose name Noantri (noi altri) translates from Roman dialect as “ours”, is the religious celebration of the Madonna of Mount Carmel.

Last year the public aspect of the event was cancelled due to the covid-19 pandemic. It was the first time in its long history, even during war-time, that crowds did not gather to mark the Festa de' Noantri.

Festa de' Noantri procession in Trastevere. Photo Sabrina Alfonsi.

The 2021 edition of the centuries-old festival is being held from 13-26 July, and is book-ended by two important processions.

On Saturday 17 July, a bejewelled and elaborately-dressed statue of the Virgin Mary will be carried through the streets of Trastevere.

The procession will begin at 18.00 from the church of S. Agata, filing towards the church of S. Crisgono, where the statue will stay for nine days before returning by boat in the "Fiumarola" procession down the river Tiber at around 19.00 on Sunday 25 July.

What are the origins of Festa de' Noantri?

The origins of this popular festival date to 1535 when a group of local fisherman discovered a wooden statue of the Madonna at the mouth of the river Tiber during a storm.

The statue was entrusted to the Carmelite friars at S. Crisgono in Piazza Sonnino, and became the patron saint of Trastevere.

Festa de' Noantri 'Fiumarola' procession. Photo Trastevere App.

It was originally housed in a chapel specially built by Cardinal Scipione Borghese but in 1890 this was demolished to make way for Viale del Re, now known as Viale Trastevere.

The statue was then moved to the church of S. Giovanni dei Genovesi, where it stayed for a few decades, before being moved to its present home at S. Agata church in Largo S. Giovanni de Matha, halfway along Via della Lungaretta.

According to tradition, the statue only leaves its home once a year: on the first Saturday after the feast day of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel on 16 July.

Details about the 2021 programme and procession routes can be found on the Diocesi di Roma website.

General Info

Address Largo S. Giovanni de Matha, 00153 Roma RM, Italy

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Festa de’ Noantri: the story of an ancient religious festival in Rome

Largo S. Giovanni de Matha, 00153 Roma RM, Italy