210 – Itri 2015 Festa della Madonna di Civita

We are delighted to have our friends, the White family and three of their girls, staying with us once again at Tre Cancelle. You may remember that Niamh had already spent a month here in June with her elder sister Shannon.  One evening we decided to trundle down to Itri to check out this year’s summer festival. 

Here are the girls heading down the old Roman Via Appia towards the main square of Piazza Incoronazione.


Bethan, Caitlin, Niamh – “The Three Graces”


The festival is dedicated to the Madonna della Civita who is  the patron of the town of Itri  which nestles in the foothills of the Aurunci Mountains.



The main streets were decorated with brightly coloured illuminations.


A stage had been set up for the evening’s musical entertainment.


The long road of Via Farnese was lined with stall after stall of amusements and street vendors.



There were numerous food stalls selling items like roasted peanuts, lupini, multi-coloured sweets, nougat, candyfloss, guanciale, and rolls filled with porchetta.






Also for sale were every type of clothes, shoes, trainers, hats, caps, jewellery, watches,  sunglasses, trinkets, noisy children’s toys, household goods, terracotta cooking pots, handy kitchen gadgets, garden implements, artificial flowers, holy paintings, goldfish, ducklings, parakeets …  you name it there was a stall selling it !!!



On almost every available piece of pavement there were African peddlers, who could not afford to rent a stall, so they simply displayed their wares on a sheet stretched out on the ground. 

I took a peek inside La Chiesa dell’ Annunziata.


Here the resplendent silver statue of the Madonna and Child is displayed for all to see, resting on a lavishly decorated altar. 






When I stepped outside I could hear that the music had already started. 

This evening  a Jovanotti tribute band, known as “Jovanotte”, were to give a free concert in Itri. 






We were impressed by their musical ability and the energy of their performance. 

Well their music certainly got Paul’s feet tapping !!!


The following evening was the last of the festival.  Having seen all the stalls the night before, we all decided to meet up for a pizza with Pat and Melinda at the Bellavista.


Jenny and Andrew


Caitlin and Bethan


Niamh and Caitlin


Pat and Niamh

We enjoyed a cheery evening while we waited for the grand finale of the Festa della Madonna della Civita, a spectacular firework display. 

The Bellavista has a superb view of Itri and its ancient castle.   








It astounds me how a little town like Itri can put on such a magnificent firework display every year.

Brava Itri !!!  We love you !!!

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#itri #trecancelle #italy #SouthLazio #MadonnaDellaCivita #travel



Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga and Itri


166 – Itri Festa della Madonna della Cività 2013

The highlight of Itri’s year is the festival dedicated to its patron – La Madonna della Cività held over the span of three days – 20th, 21st, 22nd July and it іs celebrated wіth several religious processions with strong townsmen carrying the silver statue of the Madonna and Child through all the quarters of Itri.


The silver statue is normally kept in a secure side chapel of La Chiesa dell’ Annunziata for safe keeping. 






By night the town is adorned with multi-coloured illuminations, and people flock to take part in the celebrations. 



During such warm balmy evenings  people enjoy leisurely “passeggiata-ing”. The full length of Via Civita Farnese is lined with food vans, numerous noisy fair booths, and cosmopolitan merchants selling an diverse array of objects and knick-knacks.  For the youngsters there is normally a fairground and amusements,  and stalls selling sweets and toys.



Toasted Sweetcorn




Guinciale (pork’s cheek)


Guinciale (pork’s cheek)

Each night there is a musical event, this year there was a classical concert by a Police band, a Pink Floyd tribute band and on the last night a “past their best ageing pop star” !!!



The final night culminates in a spectacular firework display held at the castle.  We drove up to the Bellavista Restaurant which overlooks the town, with a perfect view of the castle.





All photos by me © Louise Shapcott


Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy

165 – Itri’s Sanctuary of La Madonna della Cività

The Madonna della Cività is the patron of Itri.  An ancient  sanctuary, one of the oldest in Italy,   bears her name.  It is located inland, approximately 10 km from the centre of Itri, along a long winding road that leads its way through the Valle d’Itri into the Aurunci mountains,  perched at a height of 670 metres on the peak of Monte Cività.  

Up here the mountain air is clean and fresh, and on a clear day there are magnificent panoramic mountain views, whilst in one direction you can look down over Itri, the Gaeta peninsula and Ischia,  in another you can see Fondi and its coastal lakes and the superb coastline that sweeps round and culminates in the rocky promontory of San Felice Circeo, and the Pontine archipelago.





• Wikipedia image

Here there is a church decorated in a Baroque style, a quiet place of prayer and contemplation.


It houses the sacred icon, a painting of a black Madonna and Child, which is thought to have been painted by the St Luke the Evangelist, dating back to the 8th century when the Byzantine Emperor Leo III ordered religious persecutions and outlawed sacred images. 


Legend  has it that this work of art was lost at sea and then later found by a young mute herdsman who was searching for a missing cow on the mountainside.  On discovering the painting in the branches of a holm oak tree, the boy fell to his knees and prayed, and miraculously was able to hear and speak for the first time in his life. He went back to the town of Itri to tell people what had happened and the townsfolk were amazed to witness that the boy could now communicate.  


This site became a venerated shrine and a Benedictine monastery, a destination of pilgrimage. The steady stream of pilgrims grew over the years and the sanctuary and its hostels grew accordingly.


•• Wikipedia Image

In 1527 Itri found itself struck by the devasting Black Death.  On the 21 July of that year many people gathered at the Sanctuary and a procession took place through the local towns and villages with the sacred icon carried aloft.  The Madonna  is said to have miraculously intervened to spare many from the terrible plague.

So each year on the 21 July approximately 500,000 people make a sacred pilgrimage to the Sanctuary, some still on foot.








On the outskirts of Itri in the Raino district there is a small shrine at the start of an ancient sheep track, a winding mountain trail that pilgrims have followed to reach the Sanctuary.





In Itri near Via Farnese there is also a shrine dedicated to the

Madonna della Cività.



The annual Feast of the Madonna della Cività

is held in Itri over  three consecutive days,  20th, 21st, 22nd July.

All photos by me (except where stated)

© Louise Shapcott

 • Wikipedia image Public Domain

•• Wikipedia image Public Domain


Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy

163 – The Completed Designs of Itri’s June 2013 Infiorata

On the Sunday afternoon of the Infiorata in Itri, people come from far and wide to see the beautiful carpet of flower petals created for the Feast of Corpus Domini.  In this instance I think I will allow the photos to speak for themselves …….















This is the butterfly design that Kay and I helped out on  ……..





We walked down the old cobble stones of the ancient Via Appia (Corso Appia Claudio) and peeked down a narrow alleyway to see yet more colourful designs.



An altar had been carefully set up along the way side.  The solemn Corpus Domini Procession was on its way.





The priest  walked under an ornate embroidered canopy, his shoulders covered with a silk cloak, the ends of which he used to prevent his hands from touching the sacred sacrament that was held aloft in a special holder.   He paused at intervals along the way to say prayers and bless the various districts of the town.


As the procession wound its way around the town, we chose made our way back to Via della Repubblica where a podium had been set up for the culmination of the ceremony.  Finally the procession arrived here lead by young children who had recently make their First Communion and the members of the town’s band..







Prayers were once again said and in due course the priest blessed the town and all its inhabitants.



At the close of the ceremony, the priest and his group of little angels proceeded to walk over the painstakingly prepared carpet of flowers back towards the parish church.

It seemed such a crying shame that the beautiful floral tapestry would be destroyed after so many hours of painstaking work by the teams of volunteers.  However by the following day, all was dutifully swept away, indeed there was little to show that it had even taken place.

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott


A previous post about the Feast of Corpus Domini

96 – June Infiorata Itri 2010


Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy

113 – The Feast of Santa Costanza in San Donato Val Di Comino

Saint Constance is the co-patron of the mountain town of San Donato Val Di Comino which sits on the edge of the Parco Nazionale di Abruzzo.  Constance was a courageous young  Roman  girl  who was martyred for defending her faith.  In 1756, the saint’s remains were brought to San Donato for safe-keeping and housed in the Cathedral of Santa Maria and San Marcello.

Her feast is held annually on the last Sunday of August, and during this ancient festival there is a night vigil and a procession in which the saint’s statue is carried through the streets by 12 young men dressed as pages in colourful 18th century costumes.

Many of the locals also dress up in traditional costumes of the Ciociaria region.

The typical type of footware – the rather strange looking sandals known as  “cioce”, from which the region of Ciociaria takes its name.

Santa Costanza is the patron saint of young people and of  spinsters, who in the past were traditionally nicknamed as “cipolle”– “onions”.  Therefore traditional local dishes are served based on onions such as the “cipollata” made of onions, cheese and eggs.

There is also the Mercatino di Santa Costanza – a traditional market that has been held every year since the 1700’s. The custom was that children were given a clay money box to encourage them to save up their pocket money throughout the year. On the feast day the money boxes were smashed and at the market the children were able to buy whistles, small toys and items made of terracotta, together with new money boxes to save up their coins or “spiccioli” for the next year.

Mothers had the opportunity to buy such things as plaited tresses of garlic or onions, terracotta urns, pots, pans and dishes.

At the market there are also stalls selling local arts and crafts, as well as traditional food products such as the curiously shaped Caciacavallo cheese.

The festivities also include entertainment in the form of comedians, acrobats, popular games, concerts and  culminate in an impressive fireworks display.

Click Here For more information about San Donato

and the neighbouring towns of the Val di Comino

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott


Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy

98 – Formia Festa Di San Giovanni Battista

On the 24th June we were very kindly invited to lunch by Filippo’s family in Formia and to watch the procession and celebrations of the feast day of Saint John The Baptist.  San Giovanni Battista is Formia’s co-patron saint, along with Sant’ Erasmo who’s feast is celebrated on the 2nd June. The annual celebrations are normally spread over a three day period between the  23rd and 25th of June and consist of various  religious processions throughout the streets of the city. One, held on the evening of the 23rd makes its way  down to the waterfront area known as La Mola, where there is a 13thcentury cylindrical tower . This was constructed to guard various water mills in that vicinity that were used to grind grain, and from which it derives its name.  Here the priest carries out a special blessing of the local fishermen and their vessels.

On the day of our visit we met up with our friends Pauline and Filippo in the centre of Formia.

The main street of Via Vitruvio was lined with copious stalls selling sweets and confectionery, toys and balloons and there was a lively atmosphere in eager anticipation of the main procession. We began to make our way down towards the harbour to find a good position to watch the spectacle.  Proceeded by a band, the long solemn reverent procession gradually wound its way through the streets, the two statues of Sant’ Erasmo and San Giovanni, were carried aloft by some of the local men of Formia, on ornately carved and guilded platforms. Near the harbour, at the Molo Azzurra, prayers were recited and hymns of thanksgiving were offered in praise of the saints.

The procession then continued along the quayside before the statues were carefully transported onto a waiting barge.

Accompanied by a cocophany of ships hooters, horns and claxons the vessel set off on a tour around the harbour, followed by a flotilla of other colourful smaller craft. A red fire-fighting boat of the Vigili del Fuoco sprayed plumes of sea water into the air.  A large wreath of laurel leaves was then cast into the harbour in memory of those lost at sea.

The event culminated in a ear splitting display  of daytime fireworks from the far harbour wall. Huge rockets were fired into the sky, each emitting a low thud, a trail of silvery stars,  a small puff of white smoke, swiftly followed by a massive deafening detonation, like a sonic boom, accompanied by its reverberating pressure wave.  The astounding  extravaganza was seemingly never ending.  Here is a You Tube Video of the proceedings by “ReporterMarco”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xp214FVLeA&feature=channel

We then realised we were going to be late for lunch so hurried our way back into the centre of town to our friends’ family apartment. Filippo’s  elderly mother, and his three sisters, namely Rosa, Patrizia and Pompea,  had prepared an exquisite  homemade seafood risotto, some delicious fresh prawns with a salad, followed by a selection of fresh fruit.

Pompea, Rosa and Patrizia

The family were also celebrating the birthday of Giancarlo with a bubbly toast of Prosecco and some delicious Italian pastries.

Suddenly the focus changed from wonderful fare on the table to the TV in the corner, as the Italian National Squad were playing a match in the World Cup.  As usual there was a vociferous mixture of opinions as to how good the current national side was and how they might progress in this latest match. Having performed poorly in previous matches a feeling of impending doom was prevalent.

Before long Italy went a goal behind to a chorus of moans a groans, muted swear words and of course much gesticulation towards the television.  The gestures got increasingly animated as technical transmission problems became apparent  as the picture kept breaking up on the screen,  probably due to the sheer volume of people who were trying to watch the match !!!

With the score standing at 2-1 to Slovakia the screen froze again just as it  appeared that Italy had managed to equalise, which was confirmed by the cheering and hooting from the street and surrounding apartment windows.  However the joy was short-lived because not only had the Italian goal been disallowed, but by the time the picture finally returned Slovakia had scored and the score now rested at 3-1.  Before very long  the TV transmission packed up  all together, and our friends then gathered around the radio in the kitchen to try and follow the commentary of the game.   Nine minutes from time Italy managed to score a goal,  but it was too late to save the reigning champions from being knocked out with the final score at 3-2.

“Oddio, che scema proprio !!!”


In the evening there were further celebrations in Formia with musical concerts, a funfair and yet another spectacular firework display at midnight from the harbour. Here’s another You Tube Video by “ReporterMarco”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jO_SqQyYmTw

You can read more about the interesting seaside town of Formia

at our  South Lazio Website:


All photos by me © Louise Shapcott



Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy


78 – Atina – Feast Day of San Marco Galileo

On the 1st October we decided to take a trip to Atina, which is about an hour’s drive from us at “Tre Cancelle”. This was the Feast Day of Atina’s Patron Saint, San Marco Galileo.

Saint Mark was a disciple of Saint Peter the apostle and whilst on his way to Rome Saint Peter is said to have ordained him as the first Bishop of Atina in 45 AD.  San Marco was martyred in approximately 96 AD and a church was built on the site of his burial.


His statue resides in the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, and his feast day is celebrated in Atina each year with a formal religious procession,  brass band concerts are held in the square in front of the cathedral and the celebrations culminate in a grand firework display. For the occasion, at night the town is beautiful illuminated with impressive displays of fairy lights.








There is also a procession on San Marco’s official feast day which falls on the 28th April.

For more photos of this feast day click here

Visit our Website about

Atina, the Val di Comino and Ciociaria


All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

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Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy