Padova Medievale

Medieval Events & Fairs

      Print Print

Il Palio dei 10 Comuni (The Palio of the 10 Communes)

from September 05, 2014 to September 07, 2014

Il Palio dei 10 Comuni (The Palio of the 10 Communes)

Every year in the green medieval vallum dug around the walls of Montagnana, the ritual of the Palio of the 10 Villages is celebrated in an atmosphere that marries history and fairy tale: a race that sees the participation of the ten Communities of the ancient "Sculdascia" of Montagnana; a breath-taking and thrilling competition among ten jockeys where skill, physical power, and cleverness are mandatory to win. The plot of the "Palio dei 10 Comuni" is rather complex, because it follows the winding and entangled historical events of this territory. Every Village has a delegation accompany its jockey: the standard is escorted by the Captain and by the Squires, followed by ladies and authorities, a folkloric group, with tambourines and flag-wavers closing the parade. The ten jockeys riding "bareback", i.e. without saddle, take the colours that identify the 10 Villages to the challenge, which takes place amidst the green of the medieval vallum and the red of wall and castle bricks. At first the challenge is between two groups of five horses each, drawn during the Oath Ceremony: only the first two in each group, plus the best third, will run the true "Palio". The "gara dei Gonfaloni" is played during the interval between the two races: it is a race of the standard bearers from the 10 Villages, who follow the same course as the horses. A dreadful run, an immense effort that sees men running for 700 metres roughly raising their standards as sails in the wind. Every Standard is 80 cm x 1.6 meter large, plus the weight of the rod supporting the flag. Immediately after the run of the standard bearers and a short show of flag-wavers, horses are back in the vallum for the most spectacular and awaited for competition: the race of the PALIO. Five horses take part in it, the best horses: they have the task of materializing the hopes and the projects of a whole year. The race starts, as terrible and solemn as any unique and decisive event should be: three rounds of the field, six curves brushing against the fence and the trail limits. A race with your heart in your mouth, an instant that seems one year long. The race that will proclaim the winner and the losers. But the Palio does not end with this competition: the whole event ends at midnight with the "tower set on fire". The Rocca degli Alberi (the Tree Fortress) is "set on fire" to recall the fire that Ezzelino started in Montagnana in the 13th century: the Palio was the consequence of that defeat and the subsequent upsurge. A lively celebration throbbing with emotions.