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The Palio of Castelfranco, in Veneto: a tradition between history and folklore

In Italy, in the month of September there are a lot of traditions that get celebrated: one of the most famous is the Palio of Castelfranco. It takes place over three weekends to evoke and share with a bigger crowd the glorious past of the old people that used to live in the village of Castelfranco, in the province of Treviso, in Veneto. What does this historical event entail exactly?

The Palio of Castelfranco: a tradition with ancient roots

The Palio of Castelfranco is a competition that involves the whole town of Castelfranco, by that we mean every neighborhood, in a team sport: the actual sport competition is coupled with the historical parade. But how did it all start?

Castelfranco is a town in the Treviso province, founded at the end of 1200. The town was ruled up to 1339 by the Township of Treviso. The goal of the event is to recreate the historical environment, the daily life of that time or the people that have left a mark during the years of the rule of freedom by the township of Treviso. The Palio of Castelfranco was first held in 1997 and since then every year in the month of September.

How does the Palio of Castelfranco work?

As mentioned earlier, the event is all about recreating the history of the town of Castelfranco Veneto. There are unique activities, typical of old traditions that never cease to amaze. Here then all the events that take place during the Palio of Castelfranco:

The tournament of Gioco del Pallone

The tournament of Gioco del Pallone (literally “game of the ball”) was held near the town walls: a famous game took place in the XVII century between two teams connected to two rival churches in Castelfranco. Fights, altercations and duels ensued, for many years people would refer to the situation mentioning the worshippers inside the walls and the worshippers outside the walls. Currently, the game is offered with a modern interpretation, very similar to calcio fiorentino (Florentine soccer) and many kids from all neighborhoods are involved. 

The historical parade of the Consuls

Another extremely fascinating event is the Corteo Storico dei Consoli: it recreates the arrival of the two consuls that every two months would arrive from the town of Treviso to manage Castelfranco. The consuls were welcomed by the big dogs of the time, both civil and religious, and from the celebrities of the time. In the event take part over six hundred people, dressed as people from that time would dress, mainly re-enacting the people of the village that accompany the consuls in a sort of procession around the walls and to then celebrate their arrival with the parade of Castel d’Amore.

Il Castel d’Amore

 Castel d’Amore recalls the ancient game that was very popular at the time and that caused a strife between the people of Padua and the people of Venice. According to the rules of the game there are two teams each led by a knight and the goal is to get past a hurdled path to reach one’s damsel located in a wooden tower and give to her a piece of cloth.

The medieval fair

Inside the walls the setting reminds very much of the medieval times. During the Palio of Castelfranco takes place the Medieval Fair, where there are a lot of booths with people selling products and foods of that time. There is a surreal atmosphere: people in costumes, music from the time that take visitors back in time and allow them to relive those historical moments.

Another cool and fascinating aspect of the fair is that the money too is typical of medieval times: the exchange happens in specific locations where the money inspired to those really used are provided.  

The Palio of Castelfranco 2021: all the news for this year

Tribuna Treviso

This year too in Castelfranco you get to breathe medieval air thanks to the Palio association, which has always been part of the organization of the event. Due to the pandemic this year some of the activities will not take place, among which stand out the Palio del Castel d’Amore and the historical soccer tournament.

The events will still be happening over three weekends of the months of September: the first took place in September 4 and 5  with the medieval market, which takes place from the bridge of the Beghi to square XXIV Maggio where you can buy typical products, observe craftsmen do their thing and watch exhibitions by jesters and musicians. 

On September 11 and 12 the event “Il castello che rivive” (the castle that lives again) took place, where duels and fights are re-enacted thanks to the groups Armigeri di Castelfranco, Cavalieri Del Drago and  Compagnia d’Arme Cavalieri di San Giovanni. The event was held in front of the Duomo and access was granted to a maximum of 200 people.  

A new activity of the Palio of Castelfranco 2021 is the event that will take place on 25 and 26 of September called “1577 xe finia a peste”, which is about the celebrations held when the plague ended in 1577. For this, the typical atmosphere of 1500 will be recreated, a century that featured a lot of new technologies especially when it comes to firearms. 

If this article has tickled your fancy to relive medieval atmospheres, then this is the perfect time to start planning a trip to the famous Palio of Castelfranco.

Featured image: Rec Photo Video

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