It was pure luck that I ended up in the right place at the right time to be able to attend the Madonna Bianca Festival in Portovenere on the north-west coast of Italy.The Madonna Bianca, or White Madonna, Festival happens once per year to celebrate a miracle that cured the town of the plague around the 14th century
As the story goes, a man was praying to an image of the Virgin Mary and it illuminated and the plague disappeared. An artwork also washed up on a beach with an image of her on it. It’s quite hard to find information on this festival written in English so I’d be very interested to hear more if anyone can shed some light!
Each year, on the 17th of August, the townspeople light over 2000 Roman torches and place them all over the craggy outcrop and the church which perches on it.
A procession also happens where they carry the image through the streets and sing. Somehow, despite there being thousands present, it was so serene and peaceful just for a few moments. Those watching the torches from the castle on the hill watched on in awe and amazement. I had never seen anything like it.
It was truly beautiful and moving and I was so lucky that I got to experience it. I had planned on spending the day in Cinque Terre but the owner of my hostel said “No!! Do this instead” and I’m so glad I did. It is definitely a scene that I will remember forever.