The Palio of Ferrara

postponed to September 2020 - Ferrara

The oldest in the world


It is History itself that gives the Palio of Ferrara the oldest palio in the world: in 1259, in fact, to celebrate Azzo VII "Novello d'Este", Marquis of the city, victorious on Ezzelino da Romano in Cassano d'Adda, the first Palio in the history of Ferrara was run. In 1279 - 20 years later - it was decided to include the Palio among the official activities of the community, dictating its rules in the city statutes. The document therefore made provision for the Palio to be run twice a year: on April 23 in honor of San Giorgio, patron of Ferrara, and on August 15 in honor of the Virgin Assunta. The races were held uninterruptedly until 1600 and were held to underline particular events such as births, weddings, visits of important people and even the disastrous routes of the Po could not stop the party, which was simply postponed.

The races of horses, donkeys, women and men, to which anyone could register, had to take place on those occasions in the presence of city officials. The prize for the winner was precisely a prize, that is, a cloth; the second and third place winners were given a porchetta and a rooster. The traditional Palio di San Giorgio used to run along the Via Grande (current via Ripagrande - Carlo Mayr) parallel to the Po river, starting from the village of Pioppa up to the Castel Tedaldo (current area of ​​the Aqueduct). It was a tradition that city associations or some communities in the countryside offered the horse to the owner of the horse as a sign of victory. Other races were traditionally held in the Este "delights", along with hunting trips, rides and tournaments.


The competitions resumed only in 1933 and - except for the interruptions caused by the war events - have continued to animate the life of the city of Ferrara until today. The "modern" edition of the Palio di Ferrara is stably held on the last Sunday of May, in memory of the extraordinary Palio which took place in 1471, to celebrate the then Marquis Borso d'Este when he received the first investiture from Pope Paul II. Duke of Ferrara. The Palio of Ferrara, in addition to being the oldest in the world, is peculiar for the type of race, which is a festive race unlike many warrior palisades, which instead involve the use of the "Saracen" or some other enemy to beat with the spear. It is a particular and important moment for the city that wears the colors of the districts, which descend to the square to earn the prize, but also - and above all - to celebrate and remember the Renaissance, a time when Ferrara was truly among the cultural capitals of Europe.


To date, the palii disputed in Piazza Ariostea on the last Sunday of May are four, as handed down by the chronicles and statutes: the green one dedicated to San Paolo for the race of the putti, the red one of San Romano for the race of the putti, the white one dedicated to San Maurelio for the donkey race and finally the yellow (or golden) one of San Giorgio for the horse race. The palii are disputed by the four districts with territory within the walls: San Benedetto (white-blue), Santa Maria in Vado (yellow-purple), San Paolo (white-black) and Santo Spirito (yellow-green) and the four villages : San Giacomo (yellow-blue), San Giorgio (yellow-red), San Giovanni (red-blue) and San Luca (red-green). There are also competitions of flag wavers and musicians, who face the representations of the eight districts in seven specialties: traditional single, traditional double, small team, large team, musicians and assignment of the "combined" (sum of the best scores obtained).


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