Il Palio del Serafino


That drumroll

that initiates the show.

Every year, inAugust, in the early hours of the afternoon the bell tower of the Palazzo del Popolo begins to ring. The alleys of the Medieval town of Sarnano are filled with the sound of the drums announcing the arrival of the parade from the four districts: Abbadia, Brunforte, Castelvecchio and Poggio. That’s how the Palio del Serafino begins.

But let’s put first things first, because this story originates more than 700 years ago.

The origins of
Palio del Serafino.

Sarnano were given indipendence in 1265. The first to move to the Castrum were the inhabitants of the districts of Brunforte, Castelvecchio and Poggio, to which were added in the following years those of Bisio and, finally, those of Piobbico. According to ancient testimonies, the tensions between the five districts were such that the Sarnanesi authorities decided to set up a competition to dilute the friction between the inhabitants. The game was held every year on the occasion of the Festa dell’Assunta and included three games: the Palio, that is a horse race, the game of the ring, which consisted of threading a series of rings with a spear from a horse in the running, and shooting with the crossbow. In the days of the games the Podestà was replaced by the captain of the Fair, also known as captain of the People, who coordinated captains of the individual districts responsible for the public order and the good performance of the games.

In 1965, on the occasion of the 700th anniversary of the independence of Sarnano, a group of citizens organized the reenactation of these ancient games under the name of Serafino d’oro, then modified in Palio del Serafino, in honour of theancient legend of the coat of arms of Sarnano that bears an angel with six wings. However, the times had changed and some adjustment was needed.

The districts of Piobbico and Bisio, which more than the others had undergone depopulation, were gathered in a single contrada that took the name of Abbadia. The original games, however, were replaced with activities inspired by popular traditions: thetug-of-war, symbol of the strength of peasants and hard work in the fields,the race with the jug, reminiscent of the ability of women to go and fetch water at the source by carrying the jar in equilibrium on the head, the climbing of the pole, tied to the skill of our ancestors to climb trees, and the cut of the trunk, in honor of the ancient craft of the lumberjacks so widespread in our mountains.

For years the Palio del Serafino has excited generations of sarnanese and tourists, arriving, with some interruptions at its XXXI edition.

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