Text and photos by Bill Wilson
May Day is a federal holiday in Italy. There are official events involving the President of Italy and politicians from various parties making the most of it. Over 500,000 people listened to a concert in the Plaza of St. John in Lateran. In the working class neighborhood in the eastern part of Rome near the Tiburtina station where my husband’s family lives it is the local church, San Giuseppe Artigiano, that takes full advantage of the festival day of the saint the church was named for, Saint Joseph the Carpenter (or artisan).
They start the night before with a procession of the icon of St. Joseph through the neighborhood. Eight men balance the icon on their shoulders. They stop at various prearranged locations for a brief reading before marching to the next location. The route is a little shorter than the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday.
Activities on May 1 include a race around the neighborhood, a puppet show for children, a performance of African dance, a mass led by Bishop Monsignor Giuseppe Marciante, a brass band concert, a concert by “I Fratelli Della Costa” and the rather busy day is capped by a fireworks display.
The program of events lists the arrival of the band. Where does the band arrive from? Their march through the neighborhood, of course.