The mechanical machine


The design of the Varia machine, conceived in 1900 by Palmi’s inventor Giuseppe Militano, represents the perfect union between tradition and religiosity in a unique work for the city of Palmi and the entire world.

The colossal votive chariot symbolizes the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven. The conical structure, representing clouds and the sky, is covered in white and silver papier-mâché.

At the top of the structure, 16 meters high, sits the Animella, portrayed by a young girl symbolizing the mother of Jesus. Below her is the Padreterno, represented by a young man who supports and encourages her. On the Varia, there are also 30 children representing little angels, and at the base, called the “Cippu” in Palmese dialect, are the 12 interpreters of the apostles.

The structure

The 20-ton chariot is made of wooden beams joined together with bolts and nails. Five beams, or “stanghe,” are then added to the base and are pushed by 200 young “‘mbuttaturi” traditionally divided into five guilds: “Artigiani” (Artisans), “Bovari” (Cattle Drivers), “Carrettieri” (Cart Drivers), “Contadini” (Farmers), and “Marinai” (Sailors).

The “‘mbuttaturi” take their places under the “stanghe” before the cannon shot during the “scasata,” the transport of the votive chariot along Corso Garibaldi in the city center.

Every few years, on the last Sunday of August, the representation of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven is celebrated. To reach the heavenly kingdom, she leaves her body in the Bier, called Vara and then Varia in Palmi.

The feast of the Varia of Palmi has a history intertwined with legend and testimonies collected over the centuries. It has its origins in the connection between the city of Palmi and Messina, where the Peloritan Vara is carried through the streets of the city every year.

The celebration of the Varia of Palmi began around 1600 and was suspended in 1872 by municipal decree, following some accidents.

Subsequently, the Varia was reborn in 1900, thanks to the ingenuity of Giuseppe Militano, the inventor of the Mechanical Varia, and the work of Rocco Isola Pelorosso, promoter of the event, “The Grand Magician of the Bier,” as the writer from Palmi, Leonida Repaci, defined him in the novel “Storia dei Fratelli Rupe”.

The mbuttaturi

The “‘mbuttaturi” are divided into five guilds and are distinguished by the color of the handkerchief they wear around their necks: crimson for the “Artigiani” (Artisans), orange for the “Bovari” (Cattle Drivers), yellow for the “Carrettieri” (Cart Drivers), green for the “Contadini” (Farmers), and blue for the “Marinai” (Sailors). The 200 “‘mbuttaturi” assigned to push the Varia are chosen from among the members of the “‘mbuttaturi Association,” which brings together the guilds.

UNESCO recognition

In 2013, the Varia of Palmi was included in UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage of humanity, along with the Macchina di Santa Rosa in Viterbo, the feast of the Gigli in Nola, and the Faradda dei Candelieri in Sassari.

2024 © Varia di Palmi – Tutti i diritti riservati

Photo credits

Thanks to:

Giancarlo Parisi
Eugenio Crea
Francesco Iannelli
Associazione Fotografica Imagorà
Giuseppina Arena
Giulia De Marco