EASTER CELEBRATION IN UMBRIA
On Venerdì Santo (Good Friday), many Umbrian towns hold costumed religious processions, when (often barefooted) monks and members of religious fraternities transport statues of the Virgin Mary and/or Christ along torch-lit medieval streets. One of the most moving is in Assisi, where the statue of Jesus is taken down from the cross inside the Cathedral of San Rufino and transported on a canopied litter to the Basilica of Saint Francis, and back. Many other towns including, Todi, Norcia, Montefalco, Perugia, and Gubbio, to name a few, hold a Stations of the Cross pageant re-enacting the martyrdom of Christ. Other interesting events include:
* Processioni del Venerdi Santo e del Cristo Morto in various locations of Umbria
* Via Crucis in various locations of Umbria
* Evviva e Pasquetta in Bosco di San Francesco Assisi
* Rassegna della Torta di Pasqua Mantignana (PG)
* Gara de lu Ciuciuttu in Ferentillo (TR)
* Ova Pinto in Civitella del Lago (TR)
CORSA DEI CERI (Gubbio)
LA FESTA DEI CERI (RACE OF THE CANDLES) The race takes place every year on May 15th on the eve of the feast of the city’s patron saint, St. Ubaldo. The statues of St. Ubaldo (patron of bricklayers), St. George (patron saint of haberdashers) and St. Anthony the Abbot (patron saint of donkey breeders and peasants) are placed on 3 tall, heavy wooden ceri or pedestals (meant to represent candles). The event consists of a race. Ceraioli (pedestal bearers) carry the ceri on their shoulders and run down the city streets and then up to the basilica of St. Ubaldo on top of Mount Ingino. A charming ritual precedes the race. The spectacular raising (the alzata) of the ceri takes place in Piazza Grande at noon, and then the ceri are paraded around the piazza 3 times. After being displayed (the mostra) in the city streets, they are placed in Via Savelli until it is time for the race. A procession with the statue of St. Ubaldo takes place in the afternoon and travels to the end of Via Dante, where the bishop blesses the ceri. Then the race starts down the city’s main streets. Once the ceri are back in Piazza Grande, they are paraded around it 3 more times and end up in front of Porta dell’ Angelo (gate) where the ascent up Mount Ingino begins. The ceri are stored in the basilica of Sant’ Ubaldo, while the statues of the 3 saints are brought back into the city amid singing and a torchlight procession.
CANTINE APERTE (Montefalco, Gualdo Cattaneo, Trevi)
Umbria has a long agricultural tradition and respect for the land. Its quality produce and delicious cuisine have earned global recognition. Open Cellars, promoted by the Wine Tourism Movement, hosts one of its flagship events in Umbria. During the last weekend of May, at Open Cellars, tourists and wine lovers have the opportunity to visit the most renowned wineries, to discover the secrets of wine making, to taste the best Umbrian wines and to buy them directly from the producers. Thanks to the many gastronomic, artistic and cultural events that accompany the Open Cellars, it has become a major attraction, drawing tourists and wine lovers from all over Italy and the world.
Spello’s Fabulous Celebration of Flowers
The feast of Corpus Domini (the Body of Christ) is one of the most spectacular events in Umbria. The normally peaceful town of Spello is transformed into wonderland of flowers like none other. The streets are literally carpeted with flower petals of every imaginable colour both found in nature and dyed. Teams of workers, both social and church groups, work for months planning the event that each year celebrates the feast. The day before the feast, the groups lay out their designs (line drawings on large paper sheets) in the centre of major streets and within their tarp-covered tunnels, and work throughout the night creating the most elaborate designs. Some are purely geometrical and others are wonderful depictions of Biblical themes such as Noah’s Ark, doves, Popes, and Jesus. All are amazingly detailed and the result of an extraordinary amount of time and talent. It is best to go early to see the workers uncovering their masterpieces from 7.00 am onward. By 9.00 am the streets are busy with onlookers anxious to see the floral displays before the Holy procession walks down the thoroughfare at noon, trampling the beautiful flowers.
GIOSTRA DELLA QUINTANA (Foligno)
For over twenty years the city of Foligno has celebrated its famous Joust of the Quintana twice a year in June and September, a tradition dating from the 7th Century. Staged at the “Campo de li Giochi”, it is a challenge in which ten knights, representing the ten districts of Foligno, test their abilities trying to thread a series of rings of decreasing size. The event is more than five hundred years old and was brought back to life in 1946. Documents date it back to the first half of the 1400s when horsemen challenged each other to the same test of skill that their descendants take part in today. The horsemen, at full gallop and armed with a long wooden lance approximately three metres long, must attempt to put it through a ring hung from the arm of a wooden statue, until they capture the last ring, just five centimetres in diameter. The race, a captivating competition of speed and skill, is held in two rounds. The first is held in June at night, and then a so-called re-match that takes place on a Sunday afternoon in September. There are two must-see events that open and close the Quintana: the ‘Cena Grande’, a grand banquet held outdoors in the streets of the city, and the lavish historic procession that takes place before the challenge in the jousting field, a parade with more than six hundred participants wearing clothing from the sixteenth century. For the entire duration of the event, food is served in the taverns of the various districts.
FESTIVAL DEI DUE MONDI (Spoleto)
The Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of the Two Worlds) is an arts festival founded in 1958 by Gian-Carlo Menotti in Spoleto which, at that time, was a small and relatively inexpensive town, with two indoor theatres, a Roman theatre and many other forums. The festival is held annually from late June to early July and has developed into one of the most important cultural events in Italy, with a three-week schedule of music, theatre and dance performances. The “Two Worlds” in the name of the festival comes from Gian Carlo Menotti’s intention to have the worlds of American and European culture facing each other in his event. This concept was strengthened by holding a “twin” festival, the Spoleto Festival USA, held annually in May/June in Charleston, South Carolina.
AGOSTO MONTEFALCHESE (Montefalco)
A month-long festival held in the town of Montefalco that celebrates the renaissance history of the town. Please refer to local tourist information for this year’s schedule of events.
I PRIMI D’ITALIA (Foligno)
First Course Festival – I Primi d’Italia PRIMI D’ITALIA FolignoVisitors to Italy might like to bear in mind that the term ‘primi piatti’ is plural and there is no harm in helping yourself to two servings of pasta or soup for your lunch. Anyone who has been to an Italian wedding will also appreciate that the ‘primi’ never ends. To ‘pasta’ and ‘zuppe’ we can add ‘riso’ and ‘polenta’, and it is these four dishes which make up the main protagonists at the annual September ‘I Primi d’Italia’ or ‘Italian First Course Festival’ in Foligno, in the last weekend of the September. The festival is very much orientated to an audience living in Umbria and central Italy, with the whole initiative propelled by the local Confcommercio of the Province of Perugia.
IL TARTUFO BIANCO (Citta di Castello)
This fair is one of the first in Italy dedicated to the truffle (a tuberous delicacy). For more than 30 years, this event has seen over 40 exhibitors in the main square of the historic centre of Citta di Castello. During the fair, the town is animated with evening concerts, art exhibitions and gastronomic competitions featuring international chefs. This medieval and renaissance town is host to the Truffle fair. Huge marquees fill the main squares and the air is full of the heady scents of black and white truffle, salami from Norcia, porcini, olive oil, pecorino cheese and roasting chestnuts.
MOSTRA MERCATO NAZIONALE DEL TARTUFO E DEI PRODOTTI TIPICI (Valtopina)
The annual Truffle Market event has, over the years made Valtopina, and the entire area of the Mount Subasio Community, an important reference point for the commercialization and tasting of white and black truffles. The Truffle Show involves about 90 exhibitors of local products and handicrafts from Umbria. Thousands of fans, in two weekends in late November, flock to the village of Valtopina and, in the stands and in the restaurants, they are tempted by delicious dishes inspired by traditional Umbrian truffles. Valtopina becomes a hub for music, culture and gastronomy.
ALBERO PIU GRANDE DEL MONDO (Gubbio)
If you are in the Gubbio area of Umbria any time between mid-December and mid-January, and you think you see a huge Christmas tree — a really huge Christmas tree — don’t worry, it’s not your eyes playing tricks on you. There is indeed a massive albero di natale conjured up from 450 coloured lights and 12 kilometres of cable, cunningly placed all the way up the slopes of Monte Ingino, which towers above the city. Topped by a star that can be seen all the way from Perugia, some 50 kilometres away, the 800-metre high, 400-metre wide tree has been a typical yuletide feature of Gubbio since 1980. In 1991 the Guinness Book of Records named it The World’s Tallest Christmas Tree.
CHRISTMAS IN UMBRIA
Christmas is celebrated in all the churches of Umbria. Concerts with church music and choirs are held in all the places of worship. Beautiful nativity scenes are created in various towns and villages, forexample Petrignano and Rocca Sant’ Angelo (Assisi), Attigliano, Giove and Lugnano and Teverina (Amelia), Scazano and Marcellano (Foligno), Perugia, Ditta della Pieve (Trasimeno).
CAPODANNO IN UMBRIA
Why not celebrate the New Year in a town square with live music and concerts? Several Umbrian towns such as Perugia, Citta di Castello, Gubbio, Todi, Marsciano and Spoleto, organise concerts and festivals in the main squares.