Father’s day in Italy? The date of March 19th is approaching and for the people of La Spezia it represents two events: Father’s Day and the city’s patron saint, St. Joseph.
What happens in La Spezia on this date and why? A few historical curiosities about the city that is 10 minutes from the Cinque Terre.
March 19 is a double celebration for La Spezia and its people. This is the date during which fathers have been celebrated in all Catholic countries since the Middle Ages; in La Spezia, however. St. Joseph has represented not only the putative father of Jesus but also the patron saint of the city since 1653.
The La Spezia fair was born as a remedy for the crisis in 1654, which was deeply affecting the town. The administration of that time requested the Senate of Genoa to establish a trade initiative so that the entire settlement -which at that time was not yet considered a real city- could breathe economically speaking. Genoa did not back down, and raised duties and taxes on the merchants who would gather for the fair: at first on the single day of March 19, to then change to the canonical three days, which then became five and then went back to three. In ancient times, St. Joseph’s Fair was held over five days.
Merchants would arrive in town to sell goods of all kinds, especially foodstuffs.
Today the fair, which continues to be held on the days near March 19, attracts hundreds of visitors who come from all over the province and beyond. Thus, year after year the streets by the Public Gardens and Chiodo Street fill with stalls selling a little bit of everything.
A curiosity: the typical traditional food that is a must for any La Spezia resident is the typical “Zeppola di San Giuseppe,” a sweet typical of the Carnival period. The curious fact is that this dessert originated in Naples but over the years it has become so closely linked to this area that it seems to have been devised by a “Spezzino”. This gives a good idea of the high concentration, past and present, of Neapolitan influences that the city of La Spezia has experienced. St. Joseph’s Fair 2023 has been confirmed and will see about 600 participating stalls on March 17, 18 and 19.