The Riviera town of Rapallo celebrates it’s patron saint in style. A 3-day celebration of fireworks and processions honors the Madonna di Montallegro, whose santuario and basilica lie in the mountains above the village, accessible easily by car or more amusingly by cablecar, which swings through the Ligurian mountains over the Gulf of Tigullio below.
As the town divides itself into “quarters” based on districts, each year a different district is responsible for honoring the patron saint of the city on the day that she first appeared to a farmer in the mountains above. The different sestrieri are all color coded and full of neighborhood pride, as the long seaside promenade is filled with food stands and long picnic tables serving local food, each neighborhood eyeing the others nightly offerings with a healthy rivalry.
After dinner, the sestrieri salute each other with fireworks, and honor the Madonna with a breathtaking display that takes hours. Perhaps the most incredible is the symbolic burning of the castle, during which the stone castle that normally stands guard somberly in the gulf is covered in firework flames, dripping in red, white and green, drawing smiles and gasps from visitors and locals alike.