Ferrara: The Palio

You can read a first-hand review on the Palio di Ferrara HERE and a VERY nice presentation of Ferrara HERE and HERE. .

A Little History

The Palio of Ferrara is the oldest in the world. As a matter of fact in 1279 the Comune of Ferrara recognized a folk tradition started about 20 years before to celebrate the victory of the Marquis and Lord of the town Azzo VII Novello d'Este against Ezzelino da Romano, vicar of the German Emperor, in 1259.

The tradition of the Palio was uninterrupted until 1860 and only great wars or natural disasters prevented its taking place. It had great fame during the dukedom period.

Usually they competed in the Palio both on the 24th of April to celebrate Saint George, the patron of the town, and on 15th of August for the Virgin Mary Feast, but there were a lot of special editions organized to celebrate important events.

We have significant testimonies about its past from a lot of chroniclers of the period. Even the great Italian poet Ludovico Ariosto wrote about the Palio of Ferrara in his masterpiece Orlando Furioso, and the famous painter Francesco del Cossa frescoed the walls of Schifanoia Palace in Ferrara with scenes of the Palio.

The Historical Procession

The Historical Procession of the Palio of Ferrara is formed by about 1100 people wearing typical Ferrara costumes of the 15th century. These people are divided into `dame' (Ladies), `Cavalieri' (Lords), `Gonfalonieri' (people carrying the banner with the symbol of the `contrada' painted or embroidered on it), `Armigeri' (warriors), `Musici' (musicians), and `Sbandieratori' (people who execute traditional exercises with flags).

Beside being part of the Palio, the people forming the Historical procession have been present at numerous folk shows, in Italy and abroad as well, making themselves admired expecially for their beautiful costumes and the skill of the sbandieratori.

The Palio Today

Presently the Palio of Ferrara takes place once a year, on the last Sunday of May (on the first Sunday of June in case of rain). This date has been chosen in order to recall the one of the most famous special events which took place in 1471 to welcome Borso d'Este coming back from Rome where the Pope Paul II had conferred the title of Duke of Ferrara upon him.

For this reason all the costumes are made according to the period's style.

The races are run in the historical Piazza Ariostea - the former Piazza Nuova - a square rounded by numerous buildings which have a great architectural value. The whole square was planned by Biagio Rossetti, the forerunner of the modern urbanists.

The Palio is based on four races:

Race run by boys  Palio di San Romano
Race run by girls Palio di San Paolo
She-ass race  Palio di San Maurelio
Horse race  Palio di San Giorgio

These Palios are banners of silk cloth, painted by well-known painters of Ferrara, which are given as prizes to the winners of the four races.

The eight `Contrade' (quarters) which compete in the Palio are called

Palio 2023 Programme

For any information, contact the Palio Organizing Committee
via Mortara 98
44100 Ferrara
Tel: +39 0532 751263
Fax: +39 0532 752207
E-mail: info@paliodiferrara.it

Saturday, May 6
Chiesa di San Francesco - h 16:30
Blessing of the Palios and Offering of the Candles
The cerimony of the offering of the candles and the blessing of the Palios.
All the Contrade and the Court are present.

Saturday, May 13
Piazza del Municipio - h 15:00 and 20:30
Tournament of the Antique Games of the Estense's Flags
Youth Tournament

Saturday, May 20
Piazzale Medaglie d'Oro -> Corso della Giovecca -> Castello Estense -> Piazza Castello - h 20:45
Magnificent Procession and Presentation of the Champions

Wednesday, May 24
Piazza Ariostea - h 21:00 and 21:30
Compulsory trial runs of the horses

Thursday, May 25
Piazza Ariostea - h 20:45
Compulsory trial runs of the horses and she/asses

Saturday, May 27
Piazza Castello -> Castello Estense -> C.so Ercole I d'Este -> C.so Porta Mare -> Piazza Ariostea - h 20:00
Historical Procession

Saturday, May 27
Piazza Ariostea - h 21:00
The Palio of Ferrara

Tribute to the Duke

Every Sunday at 11:30 a Contrada renders tribute to the Duke and its Court in the courtyard of the Estense castle.
Ladies and knights, sbandieratori and musicians for a short, but intense and evocative ceremony, that gives the emotion of a dive in the history of Ferrara.

Sunday, March 19 (h 16:30) S. Giovanni Sunday, April 16: S. Paolo
Sunday, March 26: S. Maria in Vado Sunday, April 23: S. Giacomo
Sunday, April 2: S. Benedetto Sunday, April 30: S. Giorgio
Monday, April 10: S. Luca Monday, May 1: S. Spirito

Palio 2023 Winners

Race run by boys Corsa dei Putti San Paolo
Race run by girls Corsa delle Putte San Giacomo
She-ass race Corsa delle Asine San Benedetto
Horse race Corsa dei Cavalli San Giacomo

Past Winners

General Standings

This file was last modified on Sunday, 28-May-2023 14:43:08 CEST by Mauro Orlandini

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