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Rome celebrates patron saints with public holiday on 29 June

Rome marks Festa di SS. Pietro e Paolo on 29 June.

Rome celebrates its patron saints Peter and Paul with a public holiday in the Italian capital on Saturday 29 June, leading to the closure of many shops and offices in the city.

The annual holiday marks the liturgical feast in honour of the martyrdom in Rome of the apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul, in a celebration that dates back to ancient Christian times.

The date commemorates the death of the two saints, both of whom are said to be buried at the two basilicas that bear their names: St Peter's and St Paul's Outside the Walls.

A religious procession takes place at the Basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls on 29 June, leading to the partial closure of Via Ostiense and resulting in traffic restrictions in the area.

Infiorata

A popular tradition on 29 June is the infiorata floral display on Piazza Pio XII and along Via della Conciliazione, in front of St Peter's.

The multi-coloured flower carpet features images made from tens of thousands of petals, along with salt and coloured sawdust.

The tradition dates back to 1625 but was abandoned for around four centuries before being restored in recent years.

Girandola

The city holiday on 29 June is best associated with a spectacular fireworks display, known as the Girandola, in the sky over Castel Sant'Angelo.

The 22-minute spectacle, whose history will be the subject of an upcoming exhibition at Castel Sant'Angelo, takes place at 21.30 and re-enacts a tradition that dates back to the 15th century.

The idea of Michelangelo, perfected by Bernini, the fireworks display was first introduced in 1481 and has inspired writers and artists through the centuries including Dickens, Belli and Piranesi.

The best places to view the spectacle tonight include Lungotevere Tor di Nona and the bridges of Vittorio Emanuele II, Sant’Angelo and Umberto I.

Visitors to Rome should note that the Vatican Museums are closed on 29 June.

Cover photo Il Messaggero.

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Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia