The main highlight of the summer for Italians is 'Ferragosto' which is celebrated on the 15th August. The majority of Italian workers are on holiday over this period and journey to seaside resorts for the festivities. In Sicily, many groups of friends and family spend the night of the 14th August sleeping on the beach, lighting bonfires and participating in a traditional midnight swim. Everybody then gathers together to watch the sunrise before heading to the local café for their espresso coffee and their granita & brioche. One of my most memorable summer moments was spent doing just this on the Giardini Naxos beach in Messina..........truly unforgettable!
The main religious festival during the summer is that of Santa Rosalia, the Patron Saint of Palermo. Thousands of visitors come to the city on the 15th July to see the statue of the saint being paraded through the streets and on the 4th September devotees walk barefoot from the city of Palermo to Mount Pellegrino in her honour. At the beginning of the twentieth century Sicilian immigrants took the tradition of the Feast of Santa Rosalia over to New York to the first Italian parish in Brooklyn - the Sacred Hearts and St. Stephen's Church in Carroll Gardens. The festival has since moved to the Bensonhurst neighbourhood.
My favourite summer festival in Sicily is that of San Pietro in the town of Adrano in Catania on the 1st August. I just love the intimate atmosphere in the small piazza where the statue of the saint is carried out of the church. When it comes to choosing my favourite festival food it would have to be 'zeppole di San Giuseppe', also known as 'crespelle'. You can enjoy these filled with ricotta cheese or anchovies or made with rice and covered with honey.......absolutely buonissimo! :-)
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