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 2022 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

Sunday, May 1
Piazza Castello - h 11:00
Palio for Peace

Saturday, May 14
Corso della Giovecca -> Corso Martiri -> Torre dell'Orologio - h 21:00
Historical Procession - Oath of the Contrade

Sunday, May 15
Corso della Giovecca -> Corso Martiri -> Torre dell'Orologio - h 18:30
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 21
Piazza del Municipio - h 15:00 and 20:00
Tournament of the Antique Games of the Estense's Flags
Youth Tournament

Sunday, May 22
Piazza del Municipio - h 16:00
Tournament of the Antique Games of the Estense's Flags

Friday, May 27
Piazza Ariostea - h 09:30 and 18:00
Compulsory trial runs of the horses

Saturday, May 28
Piazza Ariostea - h 10:00 and 18:00
Compulsory trial runs of the horses

Sunday, May 29
Piazza Ariostea - h 15:30
The Palio of Ferrara

Palio 2019 Winners

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

Past Winners

General Standings

This file was last modified on Monday, 09-May-2022 15:14:06 CEST by Mauro Orlandini

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