From 1643 in Villa Santo Stefano the festival to “Feed a host of people” with a hot plate of polenta occurs on the occasion of the Festival of St. Sebastian.
On a Sunday in January in the streets are lit traditional fires for cooking polenta, peasant food par excellence that has nourished entire populations. Originally polenta was distributed without seasoning. The overseer of the festival is named a “Master polentaio”.
San Sebastian was a tribune of the Praetorian Guard who was martyred with arrows during the persecution by Diocletian (304). He survived the arrows thanks to the care of the Roman matron Irene, he was arrested again and died scourged. His body is kept in Rome in one of seven minor basilicas.