“Is this for the Palio?” The drums and trumpets blared a regimented urgent rhythm that was reminiscent of a military march. Earnest young men in street clothes held large silk flags with bright colors for each contrade (family house) in the city of Ferrara. Young men - and a few women – were lunging and marching and throwing these flags in intricately choreographed routines. This was practice night … tomorrow night the costumed competitions begin. They are putting their best in front of the crowd and dignitaries watching from the seats of honor – a little preliminary buzz and intimidation of the watching competition. One young man juggles five flags at once – the silk flying up against the lights from the palace courtyard. Tomorrow night these teams will be out of the sweat pants and shorts and into elaborate costumes for the real show … and I plan to be there early to get a good spot. The man next to me is excited and intent on the action. He says yes, this is the Palio, and a conversation ensues that is a friendly mix of his Italian/little English meets my Spanish/bad Italian/English. But it worked. I had stumbled upon the oldest Palio in the world and just happened to be here on one of the biggest weekends of the festival. And I did not even know it existed – much less that these competitions were happening – until I followed my ears into the square. Ferrara’s Palio started in the 1200’s and has been held every year since (barring a few interruptions for war and natural disaster in the 1800s). It’s an entire month of celebrations that pit the eight great houses and surrounding neighborhoods of Ferrara against each other in friendly competitions that end with a boy's foot race, a girls foot race, a
You are here
Home > Posts tagged "bike touring"