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The spirit of the molfettesità [The character and style of the people of Molfetta] expresses itself in certain periods of the year in a more domineering manner than in others. If you want to experience the peculiarities of this Adriatic city, one of the perfect times is on the day of the Fair. It’s the day we celebrate the patron Madonna dei Martiri[Our Lady of Martyrs]. The streets are full of festive people.
Tourists, from nearby and far, come here to enjoy the festivities. We recommend eating a hearty breakfast before taking part in the activities of this eventful day. Choose one of the bars of the city so that you can also enjoy the preparations for the event. September 8 is the highlight of the festival. The fireworks announce the opening of the dances with the Animal Fair early in the morning. At the Basilica della Madonna dei Martiri[the Basilica of Our Lady of Martyrs], we can find donkeys, horses and many other farm animals.
It’s like a trip back to the Middle Ages, when the Fair was established and when people would bargain for pigs that could be fed over the winter on the streets. The Medieval period is also the origin of the Virgin cult, whose icon is preserved in Byzantine style inside the Church. It was also founded during the same historical period. Surprise! The interior of the Basilica does not at all seem in line with a Romanesque style.
It was rebuilt and expanded in the nineteenth century and this explains the neoclassicism and use of stuccoes. Yet, the memories of this past are present.
If you try to discover the spirit that led the Crusaders to free the Holy Land from the infidels, you must go down into the Holy Sepulcher. On the right side of the main altar, in the chapel where the organ is located, there are a few stairs to follow. Careful with your head now! Here, lit with a few dim lanterns, there is the body of Christ taken from the cross and waiting to be resurrected.
The walls, blackened by the burning of a thousand candles and oil lamps, confer a mysterious atmosphere; a faithful mystery that must be explored. When leaving these places, we come out with a very different state of mind. The long rows of stands start in the church’s courtyard. No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it here. From clothing to agricultural equipment to excellent pickled olives, almonds and nougat praline; the thousand and more colors and scents will win you over.
Going passed the stands, you will find an amusement park prepared for the occasion on the left. Let’s choose a good restaurant for lunch: in the area, there are several restaurants that specialize in fish dishes, or you can even opt for something more simple by choosing one of the many pizza places with wooden ovens.
Let’s calculate our times well because at 3pm, we will have to be ready in front of the door of the Basilica. Here, the sailors of Molfetta, festively dressed with colored ribbons and oars in hand, knock at the door to ask the monks of the convent if they can carry the Madonna and Child in the procession.
The door opens and the shimmering golden statue makes its entry. The procession, followed by many of the faithful, will arrive to the Banchina San Domenico [Quay of St. Domenico] and, here, the Virgin will be put on a boat for a fascinating pilgrimage at sea. Many with boats of all kinds will follow the simulacrum. Find one for yourself.
In many cases, a delicious snack will be offered on board. At 8pm, we return to the harbor and the statue will be brought to the cathedral in the company of the music of the citizen’s band while rose petals are thrown from the balconies.
It will pass through the million lights along the tunnel of lights until reaching Corso Dante Street, which is festively decorated: the facades of the churches on Mazzini Square are made to look majestic with many colors.
The Baroque decorations enrich the beauty of the architecture, warming the atmosphere at the end of the summer. The sound-box, where the band will play again, will transmit operatic arias and sonatas in the moonlight. The light and colors will also be present in the traditional pyrotechnic competition.
Near the Basilica, there are three sets of three different fire masters, gunpowder artists, that will be launched in the dark. Ruby, gold, cobalt and emerald colors will fall from the sky into a thousand stars to bewilder the public waiting in the churchyard. Do not fear, you have all night to stroll along Corso Umberto I Street, which is also part of the great Fest.
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the patronal feast
itinerary



THE BASILICA OF OUR LADY OF MARTYRS
CATHEDRAL OF OUR LADY OF THE ASSUMPTION
CORRADO GIAQUINTO






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> The main motorway connections A/14 - A/16
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