HISTORICAL PALIO OF FERRARA
19th September 2021
ATTENTION TO DATE CHANGE
The Palio of Ferrara is the oldest in the world. As a matter of fact in 1279 the Commune 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 in 1259. The first prize for the winner of the race was "the palio", a piece of cloth.
The tradition of the Palio had great fame during the dukedom period but was interrupted in 1860.
There are significant testimonies about its past from a lot of chroniclers of the time. 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 1,100 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 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.
9 May • 9pm – Cathedral
Benediction of the Palii and candles are offered • The Ducal Court and the eight districts, in majestic processions composed of musicians, flagwavers, dames, knights, pages and men-at-arms, arrive at the Cathedral for the solemn Blessing of the Palio.
Youth Flag Games
Saturday 16 May • 4pm – Piazza Municipio
Ancient Games of the Estensi Flags • Flag Dancers and musicians compete, contending in the ancient flag-throwing games of the Estensi court.
Saturday 23th May
9pm – Corso Ercole I° d'Este - Historical Procession. Piazza Castello • 9.30pm – Registration of the Districts in the Palio games • In the evening, a majestic procession, with more than one thousand three hundred participants, crosses the city and enters the Estense Castle, arriving at the adjacent square where the registration ceremony and the presentation of the champions taking part in the Palio races are held.
Sunday 31st May • 4pm – Piazza Ariostea
PALIO RACES • The culminating event of the Palio of Ferrara, where the traditional putto (local dialect for male and female infants), donkey and horse “races” are held.
ENTE PALIO DI FERRARA
Phone: 0532 751263
Fax: 0532 752207