We The Italians | Italian traditions: The Frog Race of Fermignano, Marche

Italian traditions: The Frog Race of Fermignano, Marche

Italian traditions: The Frog Race of Fermignano, Marche

  • WTI Magazine #89 Mar 16, 2017
  • 160

On the Sunday after Easter, Sunday “in albis”, takes place in the Marche small village of Fermignano the "Palio della Rana" (A Palio is a traditional contest between the neighborhoods of the town). The seven districts of Fermignano compete in the race, pushing a wheelbarrow on which is located a frog. A truly unique race, recognized by the Federazione Italiana Giochi Storici (Italian Federation of Historical Games) and the Federazione Italiana delle Rievocazioni Storiche (Italian Federation of Pageants) as a real historic tournament. 

Around the event, that goes back to 1607 to celebrate the birth of the first Municipal Council of Fermignano, the little village dresses up, and for the whole weekend its streets seem to have stepped back in time. There are historical costumes, performances of street artists, jugglers and musicians, comedians and poets, flea markets, antique games, falconry shows, parade evocating the ducal court of Urbino of the '600. Tourists can find drums, flags, the opening of old taverns, the "street of taste" with a display of local food and wine and the "artistic craft market" with an exhibition of local handicrafts and ethnic wood, metal, ceramics, leather, wax, cloth, many of which dedicated to the frog: the star of the party.

In this colorful and fun atmosphere takes place the elimination matches, the semi-finals and then the finals of the "scarriolanti" (those who drive the wheelbarrow) of the Palio della Rana: the game is to run for 170 meters towards the goal carrying a frog on the wheelbarrow. Of course, the frog must get to the finish on top of the wheelbarrow: if it jumps off the athlete is disqualified from the race. 

In order to participate you need speed, direction, skill in conducting the wheelbarrow, coolness, determination and a lot of luck in finding the right frog who decides to enjoy the ride on the wheelbarrow up to the goal. The festival ends with the fireworks show called "L’incendio della Torre e del Ponte" (the fire of the Tower and the Bridge), a fascinating play of fireworks that seem to ignite the two oldest architectural symbols of Fermignano, the medieval tower and the Roman bridge.

To all visitors, this is an opportunity for a weekend in the beautiful region of Marche and for the discovery of ancient atmospheres, sounds, flavors and colors that will brighten and warm the heart.