Viterbo. The traditional Macchina di Santa Rosa

macchina di santa rosa 2019

Each year, on September 3rd, the excitement of the traditional feast of the Macchina di Santa Rosa renewes itself in Viterbo, the imposing 30-meter-high structure that, along the streets of the town, celebrates the devotion to the Saint.

It is a celebration of big shoulder-borne processional structures, UNESCO intangible heritage of humanity.

Seeing it parading is like to see a beautiful woman parading, she shows up in Piazza del Plebiscito imposing, tall, slender and has at its feet 100 Porters ready to do everything for her.

It is called “Gloria” and is better known as the Macchina di Santa Rosa which, in Viterbo, marches on September 3rd through the streets crowded with people who arrived in the city to see it go by. The Saint from Viterbo is far from being a model, whose body, on the will of Pope Alexander IV, was transported to the monastery of the Poor Clares on September 4th, 1258, where the sanctuary is located today.

In the following years the people of Vierbo, out of devotion, repeated the route with a statue depicting Santa Rosa. In 1690 the image was placed on top of a wooden canopy decorated with flowers and candles. Since then the canopy has never stopped its evolution and its development in height until it became the “Macchina di Santa Rosa”, this one designed by Raffaele Ascenzi and built by Vincenzo Fiorillo (30 meters high).

To understand the excitement of this day, it is necessary to live it like all the people of Viterbo who conquer every piece of the city streets with towels and chairs and wait patiently, for hours, for the arrival of the wonderful creature, in joy, welcoming tourists and visitors.

The machine moves along the path in stages where it is placed on trestles to rest the porters. The lights on its arrival are completely turned off in order to increase the suggestion and the involvement that causes the monument as it approaches the place where you are.

The Facchini (porters) of Santa Rosa “Ciuffi” are one of the elements of true belonging of this tradition, to become a porter you have to pass tests because during the transport of the machine everyone lifts about 50 kg at a standstill, which go up significantly when the machine walks. Not to mention the last part of the uphill route, with a 12% gradient that is done running.

In short, at the rhythm below … raise firm! … Left, left, left, the great show envelops and involves the public leaving an indelible mark in the eyes and hearts of those who are there for the first time.

Donatella Binaglia


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