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Palio di Ferrara

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The most ancient horse race in the world

Historic centre and Piazza Ariostea

Ferrara (FE)

Besides being the oldest in the world, the Palio in Ferrara is also particular for the type of race it holds. Unlike many warrior competitions, which use a “saraceno” or some type of other enemy to defeat with a lance, this is actually a celebratory race.

For the occasion, the city wears the colors of the contrade, which go to the piazza to earn the palio, but also, and more importantly, to celebrate the Renaissance period when Ferrara was really a capital city.

The Palio was made official in 1279 and rapidly transformed into the symbol of a glorious and fascinating Renaissance. Since then rituals and dates have only changed slightly, and the celebration in the town has not been altered.

A month of celebrations, parades, races and competitions between the eight Contrade [neighborhoods linked to the parish] to win the precious drape dedicated to Saint George, the patron saint of Ferrara, will be held.

The already warm month of May welcomes the participants in original costume who parade through the streets of the city centre and the hard-fought flag-throwing competitions in Piazza del Municipio will accompany visitors up to the spectacular horse race in Piazza Ariostea, held on May 28th.

Date: the event will be held on May 04, 2019, May 05, 2019, May 18, 2019, May 19, 2019, May 25, 2019, May 31, 2019, Jun 01, 2019, Jun 02, 2019

Event timetable: see programme


- Saturday May 4th, h. 9pm Cattedrale di Ferrara
The Contrade take part in the Holy Mass in the Cathedral, each of them offering a candle to the altar. The bishop blesses the "palii", the prizes for the winners of the four races at the altar.

- Sunday May 5th, h 3.30pm Piazza Municipale

- Saturday May 18th, h. 8.45pm
Piazza Municipale

- Sunday May 19th, h. 4pm Piazza Municipale
The flag wavers of the Ferarra Palio have been masters of their art for hundreds of years and have won numerous international competitions. These competitions also draw a huge crowd of devoted fans. The music, colour and acrobacy of these exhibitions has the effect of carrying the public back in time to the golden days of when the Este family ruled the city.

- Saturday May 25th, h. 9 pm
Corso Ercole I d'Este (from Porta degli Angeli) - Corso Ercole I d'Este, Largo Castello, Corso Martiri della Libertà, Piazza Municipale.
The contrade, represented by over 1000 people in Renaissance costumes, parade from Porta degli Angeli along Corso Ercole I d’Este to Piazza Municipale. In the square, before the Duke and the Este court, they enrol in the palio contests and take a solemn oath.

- Friday May 31st
h. 8.00 am and 5 pm Piazza Ariostea

- Sunday June 1st, h. 8.00am and 3pm
Piazza Ariostea

- Sunday June 2nd, h. 4 pm
Piazza Ariostea
The races take place every year to recall the extraordinary Palio that celebrated the crowning of Borso d'Este as first Duke of Ferrara in 1471.
The races, preceeded by the historical parade, are four:
Corsa dei putti - Boys' race (Palio di San Romano)
Corsa delle putte - Girls' race (Palio di San Paolo)
Corsa delle asine - Donkey race (Palio di San Maurelio)
Corsa dei cavalli - Horse race (Palio di San Giorgio).

Entrance: entry fee

Full fee: to be defined

Information and Booking Centre

Ente Palio città di Ferrara
Via Mortara, 98 - Phone: 0039 0532 751263 - Fax: 0039 0532 752207
Weekday timetable:

9.00-13.00; 16.00-19.00

Weekend timetable:

Tourist Information Office
Castello Estense - 44121 Ferrara - Phone: ++39 0532 209370 - 299303 - Fax: ++39 0532 212266
Weekday timetable:

9.00am - 6.00pm

Weekend timetable:

9.30am - 5.30pm

By Ferrara editorial staff (May 09, 2019)

Emilia Romagna Welcome (EN)

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