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Home Historic reenactments in Emilia-Romagna - 2017

Historic reenactments in Emilia-Romagna - 2017

Going back in time is possible in Emilia-Romagna, and without a time machine.

Reliving the splendors of the Renaissance, wearing medieval costumes, witnessing battles to the death and tournaments among knights, taking part in parades, trying out traditional crafts, enjoying plentiful banquets and libations, entertaining yourself among minstrels, fire-eaters, flag-wavers, music and dancers. The atmosphere and life of times gone by at the festivals and “Palio” in costume that, along the Via Emilia, will bring ancient glories back to life and reenact the events that left their mark on the history of this land.



Among the more traditional reenactments, one that stands out is in the city of Ferrara where the oldest Palio in the world has been held since 1259, a great opportunity to celebrate and remember the Renaissance, a time in which this city was considered a capital. For the whole month, starting from May 13, celebrations, the magnificent parade in Renaissance costumes with more than 1000 participants, spectacular dramatizations, flag-wavers and music will accompany visitors up to the spectacular horse race in Piazza Ariostea, on Sunday, May 28, an exciting race to obtain the tapestry of Saint George, the patron saint of the city.


Also with a long history is the reenactment of the Sposalizio del Mare (Sea Wedding) on schedule in Cervia for three days from May 25 to 28. This ritual dates back to a legend lost in time, now in its 573rd edition, and recalls when the Bishop of Cervia Pietro Barbo, who was caught completely off guard by a terrible storm at sea, threw his ring into the water, thus calming the sea, and so this event has always been celebrated by this seaside town since 1445 with ceremonies and festivities. The day of celebration of the ancient ritual at sea and the competition to fish out the ring, where young Cervia people fight to get the “trophy” that brings good luck and prosperity, is preceded by the “Cursa di Batell”, a historic regatta with armed historic ships, and the trophy of the ring, an archery competition, as well as exhibitions, shows and markets.



With the "Abbess Fair", which will be held from May 26 to 28, knights and dames in a parade will remind Ozzano dell'Emilia (BO) of the legend of the love between Lucia, the Abbess of the Camaldolese monastery of Stifonti (Settefonti), and the knight Rolando.  The reenactment of the events involving these two lovers will take Ozzano back to 1100.  Now in its 32nd edition, this festival's main event is the big parade in costume that winds through the streets downtown with archery and flag-waving demonstrations.  There will also be entertaining shows in the evening, medieval games, and a medieval market.


On May 27 and 28, the medieval town of Grazzano Visconti, near Piacenza, will get all decked out for the occasion of the historical reenactment of Valentina Visconti's marriage which peaks in a magnificent historic parade.  It was at this time of year, around the end of the 1300s, that the count Giovanni Anguissola received the beautiful Valentina, of the D'Asti noble family, on her way to France to meet her future husband, the Duke of Orleans. And, to decide who would have the honor of escorting her to her destination, the Count organized a Palio with dexterity, ability, and bravery challenges among the Piacenza noble families of Anguissola di Vigolzone, Travo and Altoè, the Nicelli from Alta Valnure and the Malaspina from Bobbio.

For the 40th edition, there will be a smorgasbord of flavors and traditional crafts, military camps, arts and jobs, the historic parade and the horse tournament, the archery competition and the medieval dinner to bring good luck.



The month of May ends with Quattro Castella (Re). The town reenacts an important episode of European history which took place in Bianello between May 6 and 10 in the year 1111 when the emperor Henry V came to Bianello to crown the Great Countess Matilde as vice queen vicar of Italy.  The festival traditionally takes place on the last weekend of May, this year from May 26 to 28, and is called the great Matilde Historic Parade.  As always there will be many medieval shows with the participation of hundreds of people in traditional costumes who meet up at the foot of the Bianello castle creating a spectacular and exciting reenactment.


In San Secondo Parmense (Pr), the fierce competition, from June 2 to 4, of the traditional Palio delle Contrade is back, during which the celebrations of 1523 will be reenacted, a celebration held for the wedding between the Marquee Pier Maria Rossi and Camilla, daughter of the noble family of Vescovado Giovanni Gonzaga.  The competition among the “contrade” of the town is preceded by days of celebrations with parades in costume among decorated houses, streets filled with flags, historical reenactments, banquets and libations, which will bring back the ancient feel of this town. The “giostra della quintana” consists in competitors collecting rings while on horseback, and here the smallest rings in all of Italy are used.



Gropparello (Pc) will put on its party dress on Sunday, June 4 during the Courtly Wedding. This splendid day of festivities at the castle celebrates the marriage of Pietrone da Cagnano and Rosania Fulgosio. In the prestigious rooms of the Castle Rosania there will be a court of people and nobles celebrating. You can take part in the guided visit of the castle while children can discover the wonders of the Fairytale Park.


Starting on June 4 and running until the 25, history will move to Faenza (Ra), for the 61st edition of the ancient Palio del Niballo, one of the oldest and most well-known medieval jousts in Italy, known as the “Giostra del Barbarossa” and “Quintana del Niballo”, which dates back to 1164, when the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa passed through Faenza.  Just as it was in the era of the Manfredi, the ruling noble family of the city in the 1400s, every year there are five "rioni" of the town which on the fourth Sunday of June walk in a historic parade made up of more than 400 people then concluding with the Palio.  The weeks in June leading up to the main event will be full of tournaments such as the “Bigorda d'Oro” and the flag waver tournament, competitions, parties and dinners with traditional and medieval food.



The Abbey of Pomposa, near Ferrara, goes back to its origins and with Pomposia Imperialis Abbatia relives the year 1000. For Pomposa it was a time of splendor and great spiritual and religious ferment as well as a time of celebrities thanks to the likes of Otto III, Dante Alighieri and Guido D'Arezzo. During the weekend of June 2 to 4, in a medieval setting that rebuilds contexts, recreates traditions, and hosts figures dressed in period costumes, there will be historic paradesflag waversarmigers and archers in competitions and tournaments, and visitors can enjoy the sensorial experience of period markets and spectacular fireworks while small kids can play medieval games.


In Forlì andTerra del Sole the date with history is for the occasion of the XXXIII Italian Championship of Ancient Crossbow Shooting. Here participants will go back to dueling with ancient crossbows, once a symbol of defense and today a chance for different cultures to interact. Facing off in this competition are thirteen companies in a magnificent setting. June 10-11.

The next weekend we move to Gatteo with "The History Festival". The Roman Festival will take us back to 49 AD when Gatteo a Mare was witness to a very important historical event: the crossing of the Rubicon by Julius Caesar and his troops. Everyday life scenes from that era will be recreated; a golden die will be cast into the Rubicon and there will be battles amongst Roman legions. Inside a real camp, you can get to know medieval crafts and meet courts of knights, see fencing tournaments, falconry shows, fire eaters and flag wavers… ending with the siege of the castle! June 15 and 17.

On June 18 "Preistorica" will be the star in Travo, near Piacenza, for a neolithic reenactment worth seeing. Experimental demonstrations, historic archery trials, workshops and games for kids, the Museum Theatre, craft and food stands and storytelling will allow guests to experience an ancient dimension which has not yet been totally lost.


The first weekend in August will be a time to celebrate at the port of Cesenatico by commemorating the famous sailing away of Giuseppe Garibaldi, which took place on August 2, 1849, the day in which one of the most famous pages of Italian history was written when Garibaldi and his wife Anita escaped the Bourbon and French troops here in Romagna on the Adriatic.  The highlight of the event is the historic parade of "Garibaldini" and the excursion on board motor boats and historical boats of the Maritime Museum.  There will be a preview of the event on Saturday, August 5 with Garibaldi's "Palio della Cuccagna". August 5-6.


The upcoming historic reenactments in Emilia-Romagna


Last modified May 29, 2017

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