The most awaited festival of the capital has its roots in ancient times and has then evolved, over the centuries, into a great moment of popular sharing.
Already in antiquity the goddess Diana had “manifested” herself after having flown for 12 nights from the Sol Invictus (25 December) to bless the harvest.
With the advent of Christianity, the Roman Epiphany was linked to a legend, that of “Er Pupo” of the Ara Coeli, on the hill of Campidoglio, one of the oldest churches in the city.
According to popular tradition, the child of this crib, made of wood of an olive tree from the Garden of Gethsemane in the Holy Land, was able to predict graces and misfortunes by changing the colour of his lips and, on 6 January, for the whole The 19th century this day was dedicated to its procession. Unfortunately, in 1994, the small statue was stolen and, today, at its place, there’s been a copy.
Before the Unification of Italy the celebrations were held in Piazza Sant’Eustachio, where “the Befana” was celebrated in a very loud manner. In Piazza Navona, instead, which has already been the site of a famous local market, the festival consisted of such a marvellous game of light that predominantly characterized the Bernini fountain, the true eye-catcher of the festival, and that was beautified by several stalls full of gifts, sweets and tasty delicacies.