A genuine remnant of Rome as it once was, this annual festival is the time the residents of Trastavere celebrate their district’s humble working-class roots. Festa di Noantri translates as Our Festival.
Running from mid to late July each year (15-30 July, 2012), this is two weeks of arts events and street festivals, and of course eating and drinking in the streets and piazzas. Trastavere is an ancient district across the Tiber River from the main historic center of Rome, which was traditionally home to sailors and fishermen and the Jewish community. These days its narrow cobbled streets retain their medieval character and great sense of community while its bars and restaurants grow in popularity with Romans and tourists alike.
The Festa de Noantri began in 1927 but can trace its routes back to 1535 when a fisherman caught in his nets a statue of the Virgin Mary in the mouth of the Tiber River after a bad storm. This Madonna Fiumarola (Madonna of the River) was donated to the Carmelite nuns of San Crisogono (in Piazza Sonnino) in Trastavere and became the patron saint of the district. This statue is now in the Church of St Agatha (9 Largo San Giovanni de Matha).
Another statue created in the 20th century takes pride of place in the Festa de Noantri these days, the Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. Her feast day is July 16th and each year, on the Saturday following this date, a grand parade takes place in Trastavere. In 2012, this will be on Saturday July 21st. The statue of the Virgin is carried with great pageantry from Saint Agatha to the church of San Crisogono where it stays for 8 days before being carried back to Saint Agatha’s.
Throughout the two weeks, life in Trastavere takes to the streets in celebration with street stalls, open air dining and dancing, performances and arts. On the final night of the festival there are fireworks over the River Tiber.