September in Asti sees at the heart of its events the most fascinating moment of the year: the Palio.
On Sunday, September the 17th in Piazza Alfieri in Asti, 21 horses and jockeys of as many villages, wards and communes are battling the drape: the palio, for this edition painted by the Turin master Giorgio Ramella.
According to the chronicler Ogerio Alfieri, ancestor of the famous Vittorio Alfieri, the story of the Palio of Asti begins when, the city of Asti, "... in the year of the Lord 1280 was full of riches, closed by solid and recent walls and almost constituted entirely from many edifices, towers, palaces and newly built houses". In those years people gave birth to the race of Palio, but in fact the first historical facts of the race date back to 1275 when, according to Guglielmo Ventura, chronic for passion, men ran the Palio, under the walls of the enemy city of Alba, bringing damage and devastation to the vineyards.
Today, the city keeps its urban structure, witnessing the splendor of those times; the towers and cobblestones, the medieval palaces and the characteristic streets of the historic center make for the fascinating historical commemoration of the Palio.
Twenty-one contestants who, in the days before the eve, will propose victory with pantagruelian dinners, ruthless rituals, secret burles against the opposing villages, up to the last intense confrontation in the field, preceded by the sumptuous procession, made up of over 1200 appearances in medieval costume.
After so much commitment, so much passion and so many sorrows, only one jockey can put in his hand the crimson drapery with the insignia of the city and the image of the Holy Patron.
For everyone, the big party begins already the week before with the presentation of the preview of the procession, then on Thursday the Palio of the flagpoles called "Paliotto", the colourful market on Friday, and Saturday the races on the track to test the forces in the field, in a crescent excitement.
Thursday, in Piazza San Secondo, under the careful eye of the judges, expert in the art of the flag, and under the supervision of The Captain of Palio, the young athletes, present their spectacular exercises and figures, to win the "Paliotto" city insignia.
The Flagship Battalion graduates every year the best group of flagship bands. This challenge, which takes place at night, is followed by a number of young supporters who banners, drums and flags inciting their group. Around midnight the verdict: for a whole year the winner will have the honor of the chronicle and win to be present in the most prestigious Italian shows.
Even the little ones have the right space for the Palio. For them, on Saturday afternoon before the race, there is an evocative costume show that follows the path of the next day's parade. These are very young paratroopers, from 4 to 14 years old, who from Corso Alfieri will arrive in Piazza Alfieri where they will attend the tests of their respective horses and jockeys.
To understand the Palio, you should live the atmosphere, perhaps following the events of one of the twenty-one participants: from the looks of the bourgeoisie, who have been working a Whole year, you will really understand what the visceral passion means, the very attachment to their colours, the irrepressible desire to win, the uncontrollable joy of victory or the bitterness of defeat.
The race runs inside Piazza Alfieri and invites thousands of people every year to join the party, to fan the favourite horse, mounted by experienced jockeys.
An intense and unforgettable program that begins in the early afternoon with the medieval historical procession, which from the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta winds in the streets of the centre to arrive then in Piazza Alfieri, the flagpersons and finally the moment clou, the race to win the Sendallo is the final prize of the Palio of Asti.
More than one thousand partecipants dressed in a medieval costume, twenty-one horses in the cane, the besieged city, the eve dinners, are the ingredients that make Palio the most anticipated event of September!
September the 17th ... Letthe race begin! … Si corre il Palio! Si corre il Palio!