Remember the Befana with her hair in Roman style? There are several clues that seem to indicate a certain Roman origin for Italy’s most famous old woman, who flies on her broomstick to bring gifts to good children and coal to naughty ones.
Old as the Befana who comes by night, here’s the Befana of Piazza Navona. The square of Bernini’s fountains is the centre of this event, dearly loved by the Romans, especially the youngest among them. From before Christmas, the square fills up with pretty wooden huts selling delicacies and handcrafted objects. But the Befana is the real star, and on 6th January the square wakes at dawn to pay homage to her as tradition demands.
Among concerts, street performers and living nativity scenes, the Befana makes her triumphant entrance to the delight of children, but also (and maybe even more) their parents, who have secretly never stopped believing. The feast of the Befana is a magical time when the barriers between generations are removed and joy and imagination take hold among young and old alike.