Since the city’s terrible plague in 1624, Palermo celebrates its patron saint, Santa Rosalia on 14 and 15 July. The Fistinu is the most important event in the city’s calendar. The procession of the Carro Trionfale (Triumphal Float), carrying the statue of Santa Rosalia, through the streets of Palermo’s ancient Cassaro district, is the highlight of the festival.
Amongst the festivities, gastronomic treats associated with the festival include pasta con le sarde and sfinciuni.
Santa Rosalia (1130-1166) was born into an aristocratic family and lived in the court of King Ruggero. Despite having been promised to Count Baldovino, her devotion to God meant that she ultimately rejected Baldovino’s proposal and she subsequently took refuge in a cave on Mount Pellegrino where she lived the life of a hermit until her death. During the 1624 plague, she appeared in a dream to a hunter, bringing to his attention the cave in which her remains lay and when these were brought to Palermo and carried three times around the city, the plague was eradicated.