The centuries-old feast of the Madonna della Bruna , Patron of the city of Matera, begins with the procession “of the shepherds”, which wakes the ancient quarters at the first light of dawn, to greet the Image of the Virgin. Her passage is announced with fireworks, while the Knights who escort the float gather along the streets and in the “neighbourhoods”.
According to tradition, on the morning of July 2nd the statue of the Holy Mother is taken into the church of Piccianello and then is carried in procession on the float all afternoon, along the main streets of Matera, which are flooded with people. In the evening the procession reaches the Cathedral Square, where “three turns” are performed, to symbolise the taking of the city by the Holy Patron. The statue, accompanied by the Archbishop’s court,is placed in the Cathedral.
The Knights, whose horses are draped with paper and velvet flowers, surround the float.
The charioteer urges the mules towards the close-by piazza, to return the symbol of the Feast
to the throngs gathered there. Following the same ancient ritual, the masses of people, in their
excitement, confuse the sacred with the profane, and, to the general astonishment, assault and
destroy the chariot, fruit of months of handiwork. (It will be designed and rebuilt the next year)
The festivity ends in the late evening with the din of the fireworks contest , which creates a
unique scenario above the ancient quarters of the Sassi, a Unesco World Heritage site.