This year the Sant’Agata festival came upon me with less drama, as I already expected it to be dynamic, overwhelming and exotic. It certainly did not fail to meet its high expectations. Now days later all that remains are forgotten morsels of wax which stick to the tyres of Catania’s impatient motorists.
Below are a selection of images I took from the festival. They were taken on the 5th of February, the most important day of the celebrations, when the saint’s relic is taken from the cathedral in Piazza Duomo and completes a long journey through the city.
The full itinerary is: Piazza Duomo, via Etnea, via Coronda, Piazza Cavour, back along via Etnea to via Sangiugliano and finally via Crociferi. It leaves Piazza Duomo at around 5pm and arrives at via Crociferi sometime after 8am the next morning.
As the procession slowly makes its way up via Etnea, huge crowds of people wait on both sides of the road. This young man is trimming the wick of his candle before continuing his journey to Piazza Cavour (known locally as Borgo).
After a short rest these men pick up their huge candles with difficulty, and continue their journey northwards up the hill to Piazza Cavour.
This picture shows the extent of the crowding. Young and old, male and female, follow along in the procession which can be tightly compressed. It is all the more impressive when you consider that it lasts for over 15 hours!
The streets are covered on both sides by stalls selling everything from sweets and nuts to beer and paninos.
The procession on via Etnea. The man on the left of the photo is accepting candles from the crowd, which are then burned either side of the relic.
In ‘Borgo’ the huge candles have almost burned out. Rivers of wax form on the pavement.
Young men, tired after carrying their candles for several hours, rest with friends in the candle glow.
Here is a short video of the procession: