This centuries-old festival begins early in the morning with the Shepherds’ Procession (“Processione dei Pastori”), during which, the people awake at dawn to greet the Picture of the Virgin (“Quadro della Vergine”) with carols and fireworks.
As per tradition, in the morning of the 2nd July the statues of the Madonna is brought into the church of Rione Piccianello to be brought in procession on a celebrative chariot. The statues will be deposited into the Cathedral after three laps in Piazza Duomo.
The papièr-mâché chariot is finally driven back into the main square under the protection of knights. The final act of the festival is the destruction of the chariot.
Late at night a fireworks show takes place in the unique scenario of the Sassi. Next year a new Cahariot will be created for the citizens’ joy.
There are three legends about this festival.
The first is about a girl who asked a farmer to bring her into the town. At the gates of the town, the farmer saw the girl becoming a statue.
The Virgin greeted the farmer whispering him her will. She wanted to enter the town on a decorated chariot every year.
The second legend maintains that the destruction of the chariot is a simulation of the attacks of the saracens to the town.
The third belongs to the 16th century, when Matera was governed by the mean Count of Trqamontano, who promised a new chariot every year. It is said that the population destroyed the chariot to oblige the Count to build a new one.
Materan people believe that the Madonna della Bruna is named after the brown colour of her hair, but it has been discovered, after years of restoration, that the Madonna was fair-haired.