Celebrating the Saints

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 28 Nov 2023

Every town in Italy has a patron saint and each one has a day in the year dedicated to its celebration, known locally as the "Festa del Santo Patrono". Stumbling across one of these saints days unwittingly can have two outcomes. You might find it a fascinating chance to observe local traditions and witness centuries-old processions and rituals. Or you might find it a frustrating hiatus in your best-made plans as you discover public offices, shops and businesses closed for the day, the streets more crowded than usual and even bars and restaurants making the most of a well-earned rest day.


A patron saint is usually connected to the town in some way - it may be the place where they were born, worked or died, or the local church or cathedral may contain their relics. The saint is believed to protect the community and to intercede on behalf of the local people with God. The practice of adopting a patron saint goes back to Roman times when the early public churches were often constructed on the site of graves of martyrs, their names then being adopted by the church. Some towns have more than one patron saint, and the same saint can be celebrated by more than one town.


On most Saints Days there is a church service dedicated to the saint in question, and a religious procession through the streets of the town. Festivities may also include live music, dancing, elaborate staging, fireworks, costumes and food showcasing local specialities. All the generations take part and families come together for these special events.

It is worth noting the key dates of Saint's Days and researching the towns and villages you might visit on your trip to Italy for confirmation of local events taking place.  Here are some of the major cities, but remember to check out each of the places you might stay.


January 13 Sant'Ilario Parma
April 25 San Marco Evangelista Venice
April 29 Santa Caterina Siena
May 16 Sant’Ubaldo Gubbio
May 21 San Zeno Verona
June 13 San Antonio Padua
June 17 San Ranieri Pisa
June 24 San Giovanni Battista Florence and Turin
June 29 Santi Pietro e Paolo Rome
July 2 Madonna della Bruna Matera
July 12 San Paolino Lucca
July 23 Sant’Apollinare Ravenna
August 7 San Donato Arezzo
September 19 San Gennaro  Naples
September 29 San Michele Arcangelo Cuneo
October 4 San Francesco  Assisi
October 4 San Petronio Bologna
December 7 Sant’Ambrogio Milan

The photos above show the cities of Rome, Milan, Florence, Bologna, Turin and Parma.