We The Italians | Italian Traditions: Italian Traditions Palio della Rocca

Italian Traditions: Italian Traditions Palio della Rocca

Italian Traditions: Italian Traditions Palio della Rocca

  • WTI Magazine #95 Sep 15, 2017
  • 101

The Palio della Rocca is a historical re-enactment founded in 1987 in the municipality of Serra Sant'Abbondio in the Marche region. The event covers many cultural, tourist, religious and social meanings. The central point is the challenge that takes place on the second Sunday of September between the 3 ancient villages and 3 ancient castles, which made up the medieval territory of Serra Sant' Abbondio, and is disputed through the "race of geese".

The historical event evokes a significant moment in the past of Serra Sant'Abbondio: the construction by military architect Francesco di Giorgio Martini of the fortress of Sant'Habundi (1476-1486). The program unfolds between Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings and includes a series of theatrical performances, processions, music, street theatre, juggling and fireworks shows. At the Hostarie you can taste typical dishes and local wines. The highlight of the event is the Palio dispute, with the exciting race of geese that takes place on Sunday afternoon: each castle competes with its own geese of white race and its own "ocaro" (the men who handle the geese), in the center of the village.

The re-enactment wanted to involve the whole Serrana community, including the hamlets of the municipality. Then, to dispute the challenge of the palio, were called the 5 major hamlets of the municipality of Serra Sant'Abbondio, plus the capital. The castles that since 1987 have challenged in the palio are: 1) Castello di Serra di Sant' Onda: colours white-red, symbol of the lion; 2) Castello di Leccia: colours white-yellow, symbol of the tower with branches of holm oak; 3) Castello di Poggetto: colours white-black, symbol of the falcon; 4) Castello di Montevecchio: colours white-orange, symbol of the fox; 5) Campietro Castle: white-blue colours, symbol of the dove; 6) Petrara Castle: white-green colours, symbol of the water source.

Each castle can choose an "ocaro" between its own people (contradaioli). The latter chooses a white goose (Anser anser kind) as he sees fit, which will take on the challenge. Then the 6 castles, represented by the 6 ocari, are located under the bell tower of the "Porta Santa". From there, at the sixth touch of the bell, they will move towards the town hall where the finish line is located. Along the way, the animal must always be in front of the ocaro, who cannot touch the goose in any way, but can only incite it with cries and movements of the hands.