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Sassari mayor says UN honour 'an extraordinary' event

Four Italian communities' events added to cultural heritage list

04 December, 19:15
Sassari mayor says UN honour 'an extraordinary' event (ANSA) - Viterbo, December 4 - A decision by the UN cultural agency to honour four religious processions in Italy which include volunteers bearing heavy objects was greeted with joy Wednesday by local mayors.

Gianfranco Ganau, mayor of Sassari, called the UNESCO decision "an extraordinary event that recognizes the seriousness of the work and the committed efforts in all these years".

He spoke after UNESCO named religious processions in Sassari, Viterbo, Nola and Palmi to a United Nations world heritage listing as notable for their "Celebrations of big shoulder-borne processional structures".

The UN agency noted that "Catholic processions featuring large shoulder-borne processional structures take place throughout Italy, but particularly in (these) four historic city centres".

The honour will be an important boost for Sassari, said Ganau, whose Sardinian city hosts the Discesa dei Candelieri (Descent of the Candlesticks) involving the votive transportation of wooden obelisks.

"Now we have the task of maintaining and promoting this UNESCO recognition that will no doubt promote the growth of our community," said Ganau.

In Viterbo, Mayor Leonardo Michelini said that many factors "contribute to the beauty of the (local) event" - the Macchina di Santa Rosa (Tower of Santa Rosa) which commemorates the town's patron saint. He said it is important that the ceremony includes important elements "of folklore and tradition, embodied by the more than 100 porters" who carry the macchina through Viterbo's streets during the procession. "They are the living part...and due to their strength, their commitment, their real sacrifice, the fact of so much effort, something really big is accomplished each year".

In Nola, a procession of eight wood and papier mâché obelisks commemorates the return of St. Paolino.

The event is in the "DNA of the people of Nola," said Mayor Geremia Biancardi, adding that he hoped the recognition will contribute to growth opportunities for his community, located about 30 km from Naples.

In Palmi, located on the very tip of the Italian peninsula, volunteers carry a complex processional structure during the town's festival in honour of Our Lady of the Holy Letter.