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What to see in Italy: La Varia di Palmi, UNESCO Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity

2021-02-25 22:29

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What to see in Italy: The Varia di Palmi, UNESCO Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity The Varia di Palmi is a popular festival that takes place in the heart

What to see in Italy: the Varia of Palmi, UNESCO Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity

The Varia di Palmi is a popular festival that takes place in Palmi in honour of Maria Santissima della Sacra Lettera, the patron saint and protector of the town, on the last Sunday of August every few years. The event is the main festival of the region, in 2014 considered the 'festival of Calabria', and is part of the Network of the Great Italian Shoulder Machines, since 2013 included in the UNESCO Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

The Varia is a huge sacred float representing the universe and the assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven. 16 metres high and carried on the shoulders of 200 Mbuttaturi (bearers), the float has human figures representing the Virgin Mary, the Father, the Apostles and the angels. Another important moment of faith is the procession through the city streets, the day before the transport of the Varia, of the painting of Mary of the Holy Letter and the reliquary of the Sacred Hair.

Since 1900, the Varia has also received other awards, including the cover of an issue of La Domenica del Corriere, the issue of a postage stamp produced by the Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato, and its inclusion in a national lottery.

E vai
E tira chianu chianu ca scasau
Chista è la Varia chi me nonnu mi dassau



Text taken from the official song of the Varia of Palmi

Artists: Ragainerba, Bunarma

Album: Aundi vai

Release date: 2006

Genre: Pop music



History of Varia

  • The birth of the cult in Palmi towards the Madonna of the Holy Letter

  • The same subject in detail: Madonna of the Letter

    In June 1575 a plague epidemic broke out in Messina, which lasted for about thirty years and caused the death of more than 40,000 people. The disease was brought from the east after the Battle of Lepanto (7 October 1571) and soon spread to Reggio Calabria and the other coasts of Calabria, including Palmi (although to a lesser extent). The citizens of Palmi welcomed all those who fled from the Peloritan city and also sent aid in the form of food and oil through its sailors.

    Once the calamity had passed, the city of Messina decided to donate to the ecclesiastical authorities of Palmi, as a token of thanks for the help given, one of the hairs (according to tradition) of the Madonna, which were brought to the Sicilian city in 42 AD, together with a letter of blessing. In 1582, accompanied during the crossing by a multitude of boats 'dressed up for the occasion', Giuseppe Tigano's vessel brought a reliquary containing the Holy Hair of the Virgin from Messina to the Marina of Palmi.

    From that moment on, the people of Palmi also began to venerate the Madonna, known as the 'Madonna of the Sacred Letter', and they adopted her black effigy enclosed in a silver mantle in the likeness of the one venerated in the city of Palmi. Chapels and altars were erected in her honour and, on the anniversary of her assumption, solemn processions were held with great festivities, with the entire population contributing to the cost by paying a levy imposed by the Universitas on the purchase of meat. In addition, following the model of Messina, an enormous votive cart representing the Assumption of Mary was built. This float was introduced by a certain 'Mastro Jacopo'.


  • The ancient Varia

    In the 17th century, Giovanni Fiore da Cropani, in his work 'Della Calabria illustrata', described the event as follows:

    "But the most sumptuous feast is that celebrated in Palmi in honour of St. Mary of the Letter, with a majestic machine of little children in the dress of vaguely adorned angels who accompany the triumphant Virgin on the top of a machine, which on the said day is carried in procession through the main streets of the place with a marvellous concourse of people: from which a noble market is introduced".

    In 1730 the bishop of the diocese of Oppido Mamertina Monsignor Giuseppe Maria Perrimezzi reported:

    "In the religious and pleasant Palmi, in Calabria, devotion to the sweetest memory of Maria della Lettera is so great that it almost pretends to compete with Messina itself. So in about a year the feast is celebrated with great pomp, not on the third day of June, not to be an impediment to that of nearby Messina, but on the last Sunday in August, in which both from Sicily and Calabria, the crowd is countless".

    The Sacred Congregation of Rites, by decree of 12 September 1733, elected Our Lady of the Sacred Letter as the city's main patron saint, fixing the Divine Office and Holy Mass on the last Sunday in August. On 22 March 1734, Ercole Michele Ajerbi of Aragon, bishop of the diocese of Mileto, granted 40 days' indulgence to all the priests of Palmi who, after reciting the Divine Office, devoutly read the Holy Letter of Mary to the people. Pope Pius VI also granted a plenary indulgence on 26 January 1776.

    In 1747, according to the data from the town land registry, the Universitas of Palmi budgeted 100 ducats for 'the feast of the Holy Letter and Protectress three times a year, on the 3rd of June, 11th January and the last Sunday in August'.

    In 1858, Palmese historian Domenico Guardata described the feast as follows:

    "The greatest of all feasts is the one celebrated on the last Sunday of August, in honour of Our Lady of the Letter, made joyful not only by a large number of people but also by the hundred and one lights that shine in the streets in the evening. On the last day, i.e. Sunday, since the feast begins on Friday, a triumphal arch in honour of the diva is seen, vulgarly known as the Varia (coffin), which is an iron machine about forty palms high, carried by the people with incredible enthusiasm on their shoulders for a long stretch of road at about 5 p.m.".

    In the 19th century, the municipal council appointed a committee to celebrate the patron saint's day immediately after the last celebration. The committee consisted of two procurators, one for the Feast of the Holy Letter and one for the Feast of the Assumption. The ancient variety was transported on the shoulders of the 'mbuttaturi', who walked along the main street, made of beaten earth, to the sound of a characteristic marcetta composed by maestro Rosario Jonata. Once the cart reached the centre of Piazza San Ferdinando, it was driven three times around the Fontana della Palma and then finished its journey in front of the mother church in Piazza Maria Cristina.

    In 1872, the transport of the 'Varia' was discontinued due to the fact that some accidents had occurred during the last editions.

    The Municipal Council abolished the transport by minute No. 2 of 3 July 1871, and confirmed the decision by Act No. 24 of 3 February 1872, which decided to sell the iron and other materials making up the Varia. Even after the abolition of the transport of the Varia, the Madonna of the Sacred Letter was still celebrated annually with illuminations, fireworks and the procession of the Sacred Hat




  • The mechanical Varia
    In 1900, almost 30 years after the suppression, Palmi resumed the traditional manifestation of the Varia, thanks to Giuseppe Militano, who designed a "Mechanical Varia", similar to the ancient one, which could however walk without wheels, since it was no longer carried on the shoulders of the bearers, but slid by pushing on the granite slabs of the Corso Giuseppe Garibaldi, by means of four iron skids fixed under the base of the structure. The route of the transport changed due to the demolition of the Fontana della Palma in the centre of Piazza Vittorio Emanuele and the relocation of the Mother Church. Therefore, the transport took place only along the route of Corso Giuseppe Garibaldi.

    The 2013 Varia on arrival in Piazza I Maggio.

    The feast of the "new" Varia di Palmi was then celebrated in all the years between 1900 and August 1908, suffering an interruption of six years in the period after the earthquake of 28 December 1908, which destroyed the city. The resumption of the festival, which took place in 1914 during the reconstruction of the city, was followed by another interruption of five years during the First World War. After the First World War, the festival was celebrated for three consecutive years (1919, 1920, 1921), and was then held for three editions during the Fascist period (1925, 1938, 1939). It was interrupted for a further nine years during the Second World War. After the Second World War, the Feast of the Variety was celebrated infrequently (1948, 1957, 1965, 1967) and was interrupted for twenty years, from 1967 to 1987. At the end of the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st century, the Varia was still celebrated without a fixed frequency, but with shorter interruptions (1987, 1990, 1996, 2000, 2005).

    On 30 June 2006, the municipality of Palmi signed a memorandum of understanding with the municipalities of Sassari, Nola, Gubbio and Viterbo for a cultural exchange project called 'Le Macchine a Spalla Italiane'. The project concerned the main festivities of the various municipalities, which are the Varia di Palmi, the Faradda di li Candareri, the Festa dei Gigli, the Festa dei ceri and the Macchina di Santa Rosa.

    After the 2008 festival, a proposal was made in 2011, with the submission of a dossier to the Secretary-General of UNESCO in Paris, for the candidacy of the Varia di Palmi, together with the Festa dei Gigli di Nola, the Macchina di Santa Rosa in Viterbo and the Faradda di li Candareri in Sassari, as a 'World Heritage Site'. The candidacy of the four festivals became official in 2013, as the 'Network of the Great Italian Shoulder Machines'. The designation, the only one planned for Italy in the year in question, was presented at the International Book Fair in Turin.

    The 2013 edition of the festival, which took place in the presence of UNESCO delegate Francisco Morales, was attended by around 180,000 spectators. On 4 December of the same year, during the eighth session of UNESCO held in Baku, Azerbaijan, the Network of Large Italian Shoulder Machines (of which the Varia di Palmi is a part) was included in the list of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

    Since 2013, the transport of the Varia has been celebrated in 2014, 2016 (to mark the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy) and 2019.

    photo below: 

    the Varia in 1930




   The origins of the name


The term 'Varia' is a dialect translation of the word 'coffin', as the wooden base of the sacred chariot ('u Cippu) represents a coffin in which the body of the Madonna lies and from which the Mother of Christ rises to be assumed into heaven in body and soul.

photo below:

Dedicated postage stamp issued in 1997


Our Lady of the Holy Letter

  • History and description

The present icon of the Holy Mary of the Holy Letter, venerated in Palmi, is a work of 1774 by an unknown artist, presumably of the Messina school.

The face of the Virgin and the baby Jesus, painted in oil on carved wood, are Byzantine while the rest of the figures are covered with embossed and chiselled silver foil.

The icon is similar to the one venerated in Messina.

Specifically, it depicts the half-bust of Mary pointing to and holding a baby Jesus. The latter, blessing the child, holds in his left hand a globe surmounted by a cross, a symbol of royalty. Both are crowned and the Virgin has a halo adorned with stars behind her. On the globe is the following inscription:




  • Collocazione

Durante l'anno l'icona di Maria Santissima della Sacra Lettera è conservata nella concattedrale di San Nicola, chiesa madre della città, in una nicchia posta nell'altare maggiore. L'altare venne realizzato dal maestro Alfarone per la vecchia chiesa madre, demolita a seguito del terremoto del 28 dicembre 1908, e successivamente questo manufatto venne spostato nel nuovo duomo cittadino.

L'opera, in marmo bianco e policromo intarsiato, presenta tre pinnacoli alla cui cima sono posti ornamenti vegetali, ed un'edicola, con apertura ad arco acuto, nella quale trova posto l'icona mariana. Nel pinnacolo centrale è raffigurato, in bronzo, il simbolo dell'Agnus Dei. Ai due lati l'altare presenta due aperture chiuse da sportelli in ferro battuto e dipinto, anch'esse ad arco acuto, che conducono all'interno dell'edicola



The copy
In the side chapel of the co-cathedral there is another oil on canvas painting of Mary of the Holy Letter. The painting, from the 19th century, is also by an unknown artist. The canvas depicts Mary in a half-length position with her gaze turned towards the observer and her head slightly inclined towards the baby Jesus, surrounded by a halo on a gold background marked with the words: "Regina Coeli Laetare Alleluya". Finally, at the bottom of the painting, there is the inscription "Beama Virgo Ma de Sacra Litera precipua patrona Civitatis Palmarum 1863", while at the top there are the letters Ω (MP) Ω (ΘΥ) as an abbreviation of "Mother of God", and the inscription "HΓOPΓO EΠHKOOΣ" ("swift listener"), which make up the classic model of Marian iconography of Byzantine inspiration.

  • Processional base

The processional base, known locally as the 'varetta', diminutive of the word 'vara', serves as a support for carrying the painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary in procession through the streets of the city and displaying the icon for the veneration of the faithful on feast days. The current processional base was built in 2000.

The wooden part of the ferculum was made by the cabinet-maker Giuseppe Arcuri (with green colour pigmentation by Rosaria Raco), while the silver bas-reliefs were made by the brothers Vincenzo and Giuseppe Simonetta.

The bas-reliefs depict the history of the Holy Letter, the symbols of the Varia and of Palmi and the emblems of the five town guilds.

The uniform of the bearers of the painting.

The creation of the varetta was decided by the Varia Committee in 1987 and, during the year, it is placed inside the co-cathedral of San Nicola, in the right aisle near the entrance.

On the feast day, the processional base is adorned with flowers and four six-metre wooden rods (covered with cushions) are placed at the base, which are used by the members of the 'Sodalizio dei Portatori della Madonna della Sacra Lettera' to lift and carry the processional coffin on their shoulders.

The bearers
The task of carrying the processional base on which the icon of Our Lady of the Sacred Letter is placed on the shoulders of fifty-two bearers through the streets of the city. Forty-eight of these bearers are positioned under the four rods, plus another four known as "helmsmen", two in front of and two behind the processional base, who are responsible for giving instructions on the manoeuvres to be carried out during the processional route. Additional bearers follow the processional base, replacing those under the stanchions during the route.

The bearers belong to the "Sodalizio dei Portatori della Madonna della Sacra Lettera" (Association of Bearers of the Madonna of the Sacred Letter) and during the procession their uniform consists of white trousers, a white T-shirt with the logo of the Association, a blue handkerchief tied around the neck and a blue sash tied around the waist. The bearers of the Sodality also use this uniform at all the official events of the Palmi Association, as well as helping to carry the processional base with the statue of the Immaculate Conception on their shoulders through the city streets on 8 December, from the church of Maria Santissima Immacolata and San Rocco.

photo below:

Madonna della Lettera
The high altar of Palmi Cathedral.
Processional base




The Sacred Hair


The reliquary containing the Holy Hair of Mary, a gift from the Senate of Messina in 1582, is housed in a reliquary in the side chapel of the Co-cathedral of St Nicholas.

  • The triumphant

For the festivities of the Varia di Palmi, and precisely on the occasion of the two events in which the Sacred Hair is carried in procession through the streets of the city, the reliquary is placed in a characteristic silver canopy called the "trionfino". The wooden work is adorned with numerous small pieces of glass, in the shape of drops of water, which hang from it and which, as they collide as the procession proceeds, give off a continuous tinkling sound with reflections of light due to the intersection of their diamond-cut faces and the sun's rays.

Since the 1996 edition of the Varia di Palmi, the 'trionfino' has been incorporated into a scale model of a wooden vessel for the two processions. The work was made by the Palmian craftsman Antonino Anastasio.

At the base of the vessel are two wooden stanchions, both covered with cushions, which are used to raise and carry the particular ferculum on the shoulder. The introduction of this vessel, carried on the shoulders of the procession, swaying at a dance pace to symbolise the arrival of the Sacred Hat in Palmi by sea in 1582, is intended to recall the 'vasceddhuzzu' of Messina.

  • The bearers

The carrying on the shoulders of this particular and characteristic processional base of the Sacred Hat is, by ancient privilege, the task of the members of the Congrega del Santissimo Sacramento e di Maria Santissima del Soccorso, who carry it wearing the same clothing used to carry the ferculum of the statue of Maria Santissima del Soccorso in procession every year on 5 August.

photo below:

The reliquary of the Sacred Hair kept in Palmi.


The votive cart of the Varia


As already mentioned, the Varia is an enormous votive cart, weighing 200 quintals, which originated at the end of the 16th century when, in the geographical area of central Europe, religious festivals were born in which the people wanted to get closer to God and, in this sense, machines were built to be carried on the shoulders of people, on the top of which were placed icons, images or statues of the Virgin Mary or the Holy Apostles. For this reason, the construction of the processional machines on the shoulders took on an irregularly conical shape, with particular attention paid to the best arrangement in terms of height, as if to say that the higher one went, the closer one came to God.

  • The structure
    The structure consists of an oak base, called 'Cippu'. The term 'cippu' comes from the name given to the circular granite base with which the olives were ground. Above 'u Cippu' a steel structure is built, similar to a cone with the vertex upwards, on the top of which a spherical mechanism is placed to symbolise the globe. Above this globe there is a platform where the person who interprets the figure of the Eternal Father sits and, higher up, there is a steel pole with a seat on which the girl representing the Virgin Mary, called 'Animella', will sit.

    This steel structure is covered with a special paper dusted with mica to make it look like a cloud.

    Internally, the steel structure is fitted with a mechanism that allows two operators to move two discs representing the sun and the moon, which are placed in the centre of the pyramid, one on the front 'face' and the other on the back 'face' of the structure. Another internal gear, a persian wheel, is operated by four other operators and allows a carousel of little girls representing angels to turn around the moving Varia. Some human angels are placed between the folds of the large cloud, together with cherubs made from dolls bought at the beginning of the 20th century in Nuremberg.

    Five wooden beams are attached to the base of the cart, which are used to carry the Varia on the shoulders of two hundred bearers called 'mbuttaturi'.

    Each of the five beams represents one of the five ancient city guilds that had the burden and privilege of transport. In order, the guilds are: Artisans, Cattlemen, Carters, Farmers and Sailors. On the occasion of the Varia 2019 U Cippu was replaced with a completely new structure, built by Palmese craftsman Pasquale Foti. Modifications were made to ensure its safety. The gears of the main wheel have been remade by inserting bearings, which facilitate its rotation.

  • I figuranti

Come detto sopra il carro votivo trovano posto, durante il trasporto, alcuni figuranti umani che rendono, pertanto, la macchina a spalla della Varia come unica nel suo genere in Italia.

I figuranti rappresentano la Madonna (chiamata Animella), il Padreterno, gli angeli e i dodici apostoli.


  • L'Animella

The Animella of the 2008 edition on the sedan chair for the historical procession.

A little girl, symbolising Our Lady of the Assumption, sits on top of the Varia. She is called 'Animella' (animeddhra in Palmese dialect) as a representation of the soul of the Madonna who, having left her remains, ascends to heaven.

There are numerous candidates for the role of the Animella, so the members of the Comitato Varia, the town councillors and leading citizens make an initial selection at Palazzo San Nicola, choosing three. The final decision as to which girl will play the role of the Animella is made by a popular vote held in the 'Giuseppe Mazzini' municipal villa on the Sunday before the transport of the Varia. Once elected, the Animella wears a blue sash over her shoulder and a white dress, which she wears for all the ceremonies. On the day of the transport of the Varia, by ancient privilege, the Animella is hosted and dressed by the Tigano family, to which Giuseppe Tigano, who transported the relic of the Sacred Hair to Palmi in the 16th century, belonged. In order to be able to play the role of Animella, the girl needs to meet certain requirements, including age, height, weight, Palmian origins, etc.

  • Il Padreterno


La figura umana del Padreterno prende posto anch'essa sulla cima della Varia, immediatamente sotto l'Animella.

Il suo ruolo, durante il trasporto, è quello di incoraggiare e sostenere la bambina nonché di superare con prontezza di riflessi eventuali problemi. Dato il ruolo delicato ed impegnativo, la scelta del Padreterno veniva operata in passato dal Comitato Varia, con votazione a scrutinio segreto, tra i candidati che per professione, età e prestanza fisica potessero assolvere nel migliore dei modi il compito.

Dall'edizione del 2008 la scelta del "Padreterno" avviene, come per l'Animella, tramite votazione popolare a scrutinio segreto da parte della cittadinanza. Le votazioni, sui tre candidati scelti dal comitato, avvengono nella Villa comunale Giuseppe Mazzini. Alla proclamazione dei risultati al vincitore viene consegnata una fascia gialla da parte del presidente del comitato.

  • Other figures

    The other figures represent, as mentioned, the angels and the apostles. The latter are twelve young men playing the role of the twelve apostles, dressed in period costumes. The choice of the twelve young men is made by the Comitato Varia and they are placed on the votive cart above 'u' Cippu'.

    The little angels, on the other hand, are thirty girls aged between seven and eleven. Twelve of them are placed on the edge of 'u Cippu' and turn on the Persian wheel, while the others are scattered on the cloud. On the way, the angels engage in a waving of little flags. Instead, dolls, some with ceramic faces, bought in Nuremberg by Giuseppe Militano before the Second World War, are attached to the rays of the sun, the moon and around the globe.

    The 'mbuttaturi
    The procession of the craftsmen's guild.

    The shoulder bearers of the votive cart of the Varia di Palmi are called, in local slang, 'mbuttaturi'. The term probably derives from the verb "'mbuttare" which, in the Calabrian dialect, corresponds to the Italian verb "spingere".

    The 'mbuttaturi of the Varia are 200 young people placed under the five beams anchored at the base of the Varia, and belong to the five ancient city guilds. The young people who have to transport the cart are chosen from among the members of the 'mbuttaturi Association', which brings together the five guilds.

    In 2019, a song is dedicated to them, which will become their anthem, by the band Ragainerba entitled "Mbuttaturi", and a video clip is filmed in which the mbuttaturi are the main actors.

    The Associazione 'mbuttaturi, born after the 2005 edition of the Varia, is led by a board of directors composed of a president, a vice-president, a secretary, a treasurer, a board of arbitrators, a board of auditors and two representatives of each of the five guilds. In addition to the activities related to the Festa della Varia, the association carries out voluntary work throughout the year, and has participated in the signing of the Unesco candidacy.

    photo below:

    the animella

    The procession of the Craftsmen's guild


The programme of the Festival of the Varia

  • The La «Calata du Cippu»


The programme for the Feast of the Varia begins on the morning of 16 August, the feast of St Roch, the town's co-patron and protector, when the wooden base of the sacred float known as the 'Cippu' is transported from the beginning of Corso Tenente Aldo Barbaro to Arangiara, the exact spot where the float itself will be built and the start of the transport of the Varia will take place. The base is towed by the population, pulling the float by means of two long ropes attached to it, along the aforementioned Corso Barbaro, Piazza I Maggio and most of Corso Giuseppe Garibaldi. The event is called 'Calata du Cippu'.


  • Election of the Animella
    Before the penultimate Sunday in August, a selection is made of three girls, from among all the candidates, aspiring to the role of Animella. The method of selecting the three girls has often changed over the last few editions of the Varia and, once it has been completed, the mayor announces the names of the top three from the town hall balcony.

    The final choice of the girl who will play the Virgin Mary on the float of the Varia is made by direct and popular election by the townspeople on the penultimate Sunday in August, with a secret ballot held at specially designated polling stations in the Villa Comunale Giuseppe Mazzini.

    The electoral base has changed in recent editions of La Varia, but in any case the right to vote is always guaranteed to all residents of the municipality of Palmi. At the end of the count, late in the evening, the chairman of the Varia Committee announces the results.

    Immediately afterwards, the winning girl is made to sit on a sedan-chair that is carried on the shoulders of the municipal villa to Piazza I Maggio, where her election will be made official by the mayor.

    The sedan chair on which the Animella is seated and carried to all the events of the festival is made up of a red armchair adorned behind it with palm leaves arranged in a semi-circular pattern. The task of carrying the sedan chair on the shoulders of the bearers belonging to the 'Sodalizio della Madonna della Sacra Lettera' always falls to the bearers.

  • The election of the Eternal Father
    After the election of the Animella, the person who will play the role of the Padreterno on the float of the Varia is elected. The method of choice has often changed over the past editions of the event. In the last century, the decision was taken directly by the Varia Committee, while in some editions the choice followed the same criteria used for the election of the Animella (by popular vote).

    At the end of the election, the president of the Varia Committee announces the results and proclaims the winner.


  • The test of courage

    The "test of courage" takes place on the Thursday before the transport of the Varia: the Animella is made to climb onto the float of the Varia, which has yet to be completed, and secured on the seat placed on top of the votive wagon, where it will sit during its transport.

    If the test is successful, the Animella must overcome the impact with the height of the structure and some oscillations that are given to the seat and the pole below, simulating those that will occur during transport.

    The test of courage is preceded by the "ceremony of delivery of the beams", a procession made up of the 'mbuttaturi' of the five guilds with the aim of delivering to the workers who build the Varia the five wooden rods with which the bearers will pull the cart.


  • The historical re-enactment of the arrival of the Holy Hat

The historical re-enactment of the arrival of the Holy Hat is an event held from 2008 to 2016, on the Friday before the Feast of the Varia. The event consists of re-enacting the arrival of the Marian relic in Palmi by sea in 1582. The landing at the Marina di Palmi of a boat carrying the relic of the Holy Hat is made by a descendant of the Tigano family. After landing, the relic is carried on foot by the fishermen of the Marina di Palmi to the locality of Motta, where it is placed inside the characteristic 'trionfino'.

The procession then starts from Motta, recalling the route that was probably taken in 1582 to bring the relic from the Marina to the centre of Palmi. The procession stops at places that are supposed to have been symbols of sixteenth-century Palmi, i.e. the 'cross of the dead', the Palmara district, the entrance to the Citadel, the Church of the Crucifix, the Church of the Soccorso, until it arrives in front of the churchyard of Palmi Cathedral, where the descendant of the Tigano family entrusts the sacred relic to the mayor, who in turn hands it over to the archdeacon.

  • The procession of the Madonna of the Sacred Letter

The day before the transport of the float of the Varia is dedicated to the procession of the icon of Our Lady of the Sacred Letter, together with the relic of the Sacred Hat, through the streets of the town.

In the morning there is the characteristic 'parade of the Giants', while in the late afternoon the procession through the streets of the old town centre takes place.

Route of the procession of the Holy Hat and the Holy Mary of the Holy Letter.

The procession starts at 5.30 p.m., from the Soccorso church, with the transport of the triumphant Holy Hat to the Mother Church. Once the procession arrives in Piazza Duomo, it stops and waits for the processional procession of Mary Most Holy of the Holy Letter to leave the Co-cathedral, and then resumes its journey, carrying the two processional bases in procession through the main streets of the old town.

The composition of the procession, listed in order of procession, is as follows:

Palio and 'complex of drummers'. The procession is opened, as is often the case in Calabria, by a tambourine ensemble that performs a punctuated rhythm throughout the route. The palio, which is twirled as the procession passes through the squares, is crimson red with the monogram 'M' of the Madonna della Sacra Lettera;

The city's Confraternities, with banners and representatives of the same;

Palmi civic banner, with mayor and representatives of the municipal administration and council;

Varia Committee with all the figures that will take their place on the votive float of the Varia (Animella, Padreterno and the other figures)

Palmi's Varia Corporations;
Parish priest and clergy;
Varetta with the triumph of the Sacred Hat;
Varetta with the painting of the Holy Mary of the Holy Letter;
Musical Band;
When the procession of the processional procession of the Madonna della Lettera returns to the Co-cathedral, it is carried in procession to the Soccorso church, where it is placed.

The evening usually ends with a musical performance in Piazza I Maggio and a fireworks display.

In the years in which the transport of the Varia is not celebrated, the religious feast of Maria Santissima della Sacra Lettera takes place on the last Sunday of August, with the above-mentioned procession through the streets of the town, but without the Sacred Hat, which is therefore only carried in procession in the year in which the Varia is celebrated. In the absence of the Varia, the procession has been held annually since 1988, at the behest of the co-cathedral's parish priest, Don Silvio Mesiti.



  • Il giorno del trasporto



La mattina

Nella mattina del giorno del trasporto della Varia, durante la celebrazione eucaristica nella concattedrale, il sindaco per tradizione secolare fa dono a Maria Santissima della Sacra Lettera di un cero votivo a nome della città.

Il corteo storico

L'Animella affacciata dal balcone di casa Tigano prima di partecipare al corteo storico.

Percorso del Corteo Storico.

Gli eventi del pomeriggio iniziano con il corteo storico, che percorre le vie del centro storico partendo dalla piazza I Maggio,nella quale sono confluite in precedenza le varie componenti dello stesso corteo, avviandosi ognuna da un determinato luogo della città. Nel dettaglio i punti di raduno sono i seguenti:

Le autorità civili e militari a Palazzo San Nicola, sede comunale;

Il Sodalizio dei Portatori della Madonna della Sacra Lettera nella concattedrale di San Nicola;

La corporazione degli Artigiani nella sede della Società Operaia di Mutuo Soccorso;

La corporazione dei Bovari nella chiesa del Santissimo Crocifisso;

La corporazione dei Carrettieri nella chiesa di Maria Santissima Immacolata e San Rocco;

La corporazione dei Contadini nella chiesa di Maria Santissima del Rosario;

La corporazione dei Marinai nella chiesa di Maria Santissima del Soccorso.

Il gruppo delle autorità civili è composto innanzitutto dal Comune di Palmi con gonfalone, e dai sindaci e gonfaloni delle città della Rete delle grandi macchine a spalla italiane (Nola, Sassari e Viterbo), delle città gemellate con Palmi (Varazze e Viareggio) e dei comuni del circondario di Palmi, oltre ai rappresentanti, anch'essi con gonfalone, della città metropolitana di Reggio Calabria e della Regione Calabria. Nell'edizione del 2014 l'invito venne esteso a tutti i sindaci della Calabria, nell'ottica di trasformazione della Varia in "festa della Calabria".

Il corteo storico dalla piazza I Maggio procede alla volta della casa dei Tigano, dove preleva l'Animella facendola salire sulla portantina, e prosegue prima verso la concattedrale, dove i figuranti ricevono una benedizione da parte dell'arcidiacono, e in seguito fino al carro votivo della Varia, nel quale ogni comparsa prende il proprio posto stabilito.

Il trasporto della Varia


Il trasporto della Varia inizia alle ore 19.00 in puntoquando viene data la «scasata», ovvero il segnale di partenza, con un tradizionale colpo di cannone.[56] A sollevare e spingere il carro sacro lungo il selciato di granito del corso Giuseppe Garibaldi sono, come detto, i duecento 'mbuttaturi che spingono sotto le cinque travi di legno. Nello sforzo vengono aiutati dalla popolazione, che tira anch'essa tramite due lunghe corde protese davanti alla Varia. Durante tutto il trasporto del carro, l'Animella compie il gesto di impartire la benedizione «in nome della Madonna della Sacra Lettera».

Il tragitto del carro votivo consiste nel percorrere tutto il corso Giuseppe Garibaldi, fermare lo stesso alla fine della strada e ripartire, in direzione opposta, percorrendo nuovamente il corso Garibaldi fino alla piazza I Maggio, dove la macchina a spalla viene fermata definitivamente. Durante la sosta alla fine del corso, il Padreterno ha il compito di girare il bullone che ferma il seggiolino, per farlo ruotare in modo che l'Animella torni nuovamente con lo sguardo alla folla. La tradizione vuole che la Varia non si debba mai fermare per un ulteriore sosta imprevista, in quanto la cosa sarebbe da interpretare come un segno che prevede conseguenze spiacevoli.

A conclusione del trasporto, l'Animella viene fatta scendere dal carro e fatta salire sulla portantina, per farle fare un giro trionfale della piazza tra la popolazione


foto sotto:

Rievocazione storica, il vascello nel quale è collocato il "trionfino" ed il reliquiario del Sacro Capello.


fonte :

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