Every town has a patron saint — Palermo has Santa Rosalia, Catania has Sant’Agata, and Noto has San Corrado. Each saint is celebrated with processions through the streets, special goodies and treats, and a day off.
Noto’s San Corrado renounced his worldly possessions to become a Franciscan monk. After a lengthy pilgrimage and performing many miracles, he retreated to a rustic grotto. On his death in 1351, Noto’s church bells began to chime and peal … on their own.
A silver urn with Corrado’s holy remains is carried through the city on the shoulders of bearers dressed in white. Four silver griffins, half eagle and half lion, support the urn. A band plays and the procession begins. We walk behind the carriers of the Cilii, tall candles topped with colorful tin shades painted with scenes of Corrado’s life.Everyone, young and old, marches in the parade. Some follow the procession barefoot. The celebration is moving, quite poignant. The level of devotion can be a little confusing — so many Corrados and Corradas. Here comes one now — Mayor Corrado Bonfanti, below, marching in the parade.Noto’s very fine marching band leads the procession. Noto’s gigantissimo fireworks display can be seen for miles — spectacularly noisy! This festa is a magical day with enough grandeur and gravitas for anyone. We are honored to be here. •