On July 2nd: the longest day for the city of Matera

The most important religious festival of Matera takes place on July 2nd and is dedicated to the devotion of the Madonna Bruna (the Byzantine Brown faced Madonna). It is a festive event that originated in Matera 627 years ago. During this centuries the festival has been enriched and integrated with new elements and events but it has left intact the faith and devotion of Materani citizens for the Madonna.
We now tell you some of the most important events of “Matera’s longest day”.
"The longest day" for Matera is July 2nd : a day of devotion to the patron Saint of the city: the Madonna Bruna (the Byzantine Brown faced Madonna),
The festival begins very early in the morning with a procession of the shepherds and it ends late in the evening with spectacular fireworks .
The festival is of Madonna Bruna is so important to the citizens of Matera that they start to organize the new edition of it on July 3rd that is just the day after the festival is over.
The most important element of the festival is the triumphal cart made by papier-mâché , which carries the statue of the Madonna of the Bruna with the baby Jesus. The papier-mâché cart is a real masterpiece of artisanal art and it require months to be designed and made by the local artists. So to allow everybody to appreciate the result of such a piece of art, the cart can be admired in the warehouse where it has been made starting from the week preceding the day of July 2nd.
Matera’s longest day
The morning of July 2 the festival begins very early in the day with the celebration of the first mass. Then it follows the procession of the shepherds during which is brought in procession, the picture of the “Brown” Madonna. This phase of the festival is a quite chaotic and noisy event because a lot of people takes part to it, above all boys and because all along the way of the parade you can hear explosions of petards meaning joy happiness for the Madonna to passing by! The procession of the shepherds concludes at the church of St. Francis from Paola (http://www.visitmatera.it/san-francesco-from-paola.html), where a mass is celebrated.

In the meantime, in another place of the city the Knights’ Commander that leads the parade of the horseman has begun to dress up with the typical historical costume while the horseman have begun to gather and they are all ready to escort the statue of the Madonna Bruna and her Child from the Cathedral (http://www.visitmatera.it/la-cattedrale.html) to the church of Saint Mary of the Assumption located in the neighborhoods of Piccianello.
The first part of the festival concludes when the statues of the Madonna reaches the destination of Piccianello a little district of Matera. The first hours of afternoon is when everybody rests and enjoys a typical meal in their houses with their relatives.
The second part of the festival starts at Piccianello district when the statue of the Madonna gests positioned on the top of the monumental cart that now is ready for the procession.
It’s the moment for the big cart (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGfEmsqlsJw), escorted by the Riders and by a big crowd, to move towards the Cathedral where the statue of the Madonna that early in the day has been placed from the church to the cart now it’s placed back inside the Cathedral.
Then the big cart escorted by those people who got the prestigious assignment to defend it begins its descent toward Vittorio Veneto square. The first part of the run is quite slow and calm, the tension begins to grow as soon as the cart draws near to the main square where an enormous crowd of people is waiting for it just to jump on it and to tear it in pieces “the strazzo” .
This is a part of the festival is very difficult to describe so we recommend you to watch this video: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNIbfQhE-Kk) to do you an idea of that that happens.
So the cart stack in the main square it is being wildly assaulted and destroyed by the crowd whose goal is to take a piece of the cart which is a symbol of luckiness and a good charm.
When everything comes back to normality the crowd move towards the panoramic places of Matera where they can assist to the wonderful show of the fireworks that really concludes the day of July 2, the longest day for the city of Matera.
And now we cannot do anything else but to invite you to visit the city during the Madonna Bruna festival just to feel and breathe that atmosphere where chaos and spirituality get mixed.
We suggest you to be very careful and prudent if you decide to take part to the most chaotic and “wild” part of the festival.

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