July 16th marks the start of the famous and hugely-popular Festa de' Noantri, which takes place each year in Trastevere.
Noantri is a contraction in Romanesco (the Roman dialect) of the words 'noi altri' ('we others'), which is how the Trasteverini like to distinguish themselves from the rest of the city.
The origins of the festival date back to 1535, when some fishermen found a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary at the mouth of the river. It was donated to the Carmelite friars of the ancient church of San Crisogono and placed in nearby San Giovanni dei Genovesi. It was later moved to its current location in Sant' Agata in Trastevere, which stands almost in the shadow of San Crisogono.
The Madonna del Carmine, as the statue is known, leaves home once a year, on the first Saturday after the feast of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel, which is celebrated on July 16th. Bedecked and bejewelled, it is carried through the streets of Trastevere before being placed in the church of San Crisogono, where it remains for nine days.
On July 25th the statue will return home by an equally circuitous route. The final part of the journey will be by boat in what is known as the 'Fiumarola' procession.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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