30 July 2008

Roll out the barrel!

Palio de le Botti

Our dilemma during the summer here in Italy is that there are too many things going on in and around Ascoli Piceno to be able to enjoy all the experiences available. We have been enjoying our share of La Quintana and sagre in the area and meeting a lot of new and interesting people in the process. With the approach of August there will be nightly concerts in the main piazze and the San Lorenzo Bianca Notte on the 10th when the shops are open all night and the centro storico does not sleep. Later in August there are two weeks of free outdoor movie showings in one of the cloisters, Italy’s version of the drive-in movie.

Sometimes we have to make choices amongst the available feste, sagre, concerti and other events. Many times the best food being offered or the more unique event will win out as our choice. This past weekend we decided to join a friend in his hometown of Corropoli in Abruzzo to witness “Palio de le Botti”. Picture men pushing a very large empty wine barrel (60 Kg) around the streets of a medieval town and you will have an idea of this unique event.

The palio began with a parade of about 50 figuranti, much smaller than the one for La Quintana of course, followed by the actual race pitting one contrada against another. Teams of two men roll the botte up a short hill into the main piazza where they make one circle around the piazza and then in relay fashion another team of two takes over for another circle around the piazza and then up another street to the finish. Teams are judged on their time and each team gets two tries. The winning time is under 4 minutes.

There is also a race with the youngsters using small botti, the winners of both events are presented just before midnight to the entire town. The Palio is awarded to the winning team, who this year was Contrada Piane S. Donato in the white and red. Since this event didn’t begin until 9:30 PM lighting was an issue for photographs and we did not leave Corropoli to head back to Ascoli Piceno until almost 1 AM.

This weekend will be the culminating events here in Ascoli Piceno of La Quintana and the Festa di S. Emidio…more decisions to make.

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