The House of Andalusia in Calpe is one of the biggest in Spain, and its "Hermandad Rociera", the "Fellowship of the Pilgrimage", one of the most active. During the second fortnight of September - every year since 1996 - it organizes a highly successful "Romería a la Virgin del Rocío" in Calpe, a "Pilgrimage to worship the Virgin of the Rocio".
Pilgrims, women in their marvellous Flamenco gowns, boys and girls, the old and the young… all dressed to meet the demands of the road, with a stick and a sprig of rosemary, pilgrim-style clothes and sturdy walking boots. Together they walk through the dust and the flowers, along the path that leads from the hermitage of San Salvador (the Saviour) to that of Saint John, the Patron Saint of La Cometa.
On the first evening, the pilgrims get things under way by setting up their tents and making preparations in and around the hermitage of La Cometa. Then you begin to hear the sound of palms clapping, "olés" and typical pilgrimage songs. The guitars sound out in the Mediterranean evening; whistles blow, castanets clatter. The so-called "sobaquillo" supper beings at 10. This refers to the fact that everyone present brings something under their arms: wine, bread, sausages...
After a full day getting to know each other, of songs to the Virgin, wine, clapping and drums, Friday night gets going with a performance by the School of Dance of the House of Andalusia in Calpe, followed by a night dedicated to "Sevillanas" and rumbas that reaches its high point when everyone sings the marvellous "Salve Rociera".
Next day, at around five in the afternoon the pilgrims bring their carts and horses to the hill opposite the Hermitage of San Salvador. The procession gets under way and they walk to La Vallesa, where they celebrate their encounter with Saint John, to the sound of drums and horns. The evening ends with an exhibition of horse riding and dressage and a performance by a flamenco group.
This exciting and enjoyable pilgrimage weekend ends with a Holy Pilgrimage Mass sung by the "Pilgrim Choir", and a paella to which all are invited, no matter whether they are pilgrims or they just happen to be there. Without a shade of doubt, the final evening is devoted to the children, who enjoy playing on trampolines and other games set up just for them.