Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/285

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245
The Dancing-Tower Processions of Italy.

In the first year of Italian liberty the Rua was turned into a poHtical burlesque and " came forth " to grace a Republican festival. After this time it was no longer accompanied by the Ceri of the other Guilds, and the pageant became a poor and shabby affair. In September, 1 90 1, it was restored with great magnificence; eighteen boys took the place of the wooden or plaster statues, and fairs and general rejoicings celebrated the occasion. The great expense connected with its progress, from the necessity of taking down the telephone and telegraph wires on the route, will prevent the " coming forth " of the Rua being an annual ceremony but it will probably be brought out occasionally to do honour to distinguished visitors. The name Rua is said to refer to the wheel of the Carroccio of the Paduans, brought back in triumph by the valiant citizens of Vicenza in the thirteenth century, but there is no reliable foundation for this statement.[1]


The "Macchina Triomphale" or Cero, of Santa Rosa at Viterbo.

In September, 1901, "the city of the beautiful fountains" was by no means an agreeable residence. No rain had fallen for two months; the heat, stench and noise were insupportable; for, in addition to the crowds assembled to do honour to the local patroness, and enjoy the Opera and the Giostra which celebrated the occasion, the Count of Turin, the Commander of the Italian army, had made the town his headquarters for the summer manœuvres.

I have at present no satisfactory account of the Viterbo festival, and can only describe what I saw myself. Towards dusk on the evening of September the 3rd the

  1. Giuseppe Buso, La Rua e la Sua Storia (Vicenza, 1901). See also l'Illustrazione Italiana, Sept. 25, 1890; Domenico del Corriere, Sept. 5, 1901, from which Plate XX. is taken. There is a good deal of local literature on the subject, but as one writer observes, "more obstinate than the Nile, the Rua conceals its source."