For five centuries, three days a year, the devout and the curious have turned out in the streets of Catania which are illuminated with the vertiginous “cannelore”, candles several metres tall. All around the crowds wave white handkerchiefs to the shout of “Citizens, citizens, we’re all devout”. The Festival of Saint Agatha is one of the most popular religious festivals in the world, attended by over a million people each year. It is a unique event which is only comparable to Holy Week in Seville or in Corpus Domini di Cuzco in Peru.
Catania has risen up many times, resisting devastating earthquakes and eruptions of Mount Etna. This also explains the vitality if its inhabitants. The Festival of Saint Agatha is, above all, an anthem to the resilience and the ability of the inhabitants of Catania to rise again. Imposing and prestigious monuments of the city have always been dedicated to the martyred saint. Following the hill, salita dei Cappuccini, inside the church of Sant’Agata al Carcere it is possible to see the remains of the prison where the saint was martyred and died. Not far away are the churches of Sant’Agata alla Fornace and Sant’Agata la Vetere, where the saint is thought to be buried. A fascinating itinerary.