I know Saint Joseph wasn’t Italian but he is one of the country’s favorite saints and used to be one of the most beloved first names, especially in the South, that’s why he is celebrated all over Italy.
This holiday is not only Saint’s Day but is also Father’s Day and the bonfires mark the end of winter and the start of the good season. The typical sweet of March 19 is the zeppola or bigne, fried dough filled with chantilly cream.
The first bonfires around Rome will be lit up in Sezze (Latina province, south of Rome) at 6:30pm near Chiesa Nuova, and around the fire you will taste penne all’arrabbiata, bruschetta and local wine. At 7:30pm the Green Angels cheerleaders will march and perform But the celebrations in this town will go on all night and on Saturday, too.
Saint Joseph is the patron of Sermoneta, another place in that area, famous for the Caetani family’s castle. Here the feast will kick off at 8pm with huge bonfires at the centre of each of the boroughs competing for the prize of the most beautiful and tallest pyre. During the night sausages and ribs will be grilled around these fires, along with other typical products. Sweets and zeppole will also be distributed while folk music will please the crowds until late at night. On Saturday at 6pm a solemn Mass will be celebrated in the dome and then the Saint’s icon will march for the traditional procession.
Even the beautiful island of Ponza celebrates San Giuseppe. On Saturday 19 and 20 the traditional zeppole fair will take place while excursions and boat trips will be organized for the event. Ferries connect Ponza with the mainland at Anzio, Terracina and Formia.
Finally, on Sunday, in the olive-rich area of Sabina, east of Rome, Roccantica, will commemorate Jesus’ father with the 39th edition of the Frittello Fair (frittello is a fried cauliflower), starting from 12pm. Many handicraft stalls will also be open for the event, with a special glass products section.