Italian traditions: The Ring Race of Narni
- WTI Magazine #115 May 19, 2019
This tradition dates back to 1371 and is held during the celebrations in honor of the patron. On the eve of the race a great costume parade winds through the streets. In the town of Narni, Umbria, takes place every year between the last week of April and the second Sunday of May the re-enactment of an ancient tradition that originated in the fourteenth century: The Ring Race.
The Festival celebrates the event during which, at the time, every young Narni owner of a horse was called to test its "military" preparedness for a possible defense of the city.Today, the festival offers a rich calendar of events, in a series of lively and colorful evocative moments.
Among the most important:
- In the first weekend, the last weekend of April, there will be the reading of the "banno" (the announcement) in which the knights of the village are called to the race; the offering of candles by the municipal authorities in the cathedral; the night parade that pays homage to the tomb of San Giovenale (St. Juvenal), the first bishop of the city.
- In the second weekend, the first weekend of May, the Race of the ring coincides with the feast of the patron, with a procession in honor of St. Juvenal, a Mass in the Cathedral and in the afternoon the old Ring Race. The race is in the "Platea Major" (Major Stalls) in Piazza dei Priori: the knights will gallop, armed with a long pole, trying to pierce the silver ring that hangs suspended between two ropes.
- In the third weekend, the second weekend of May, along the city streets takes place the historic parade with 600 costumed characters representing the oldest municipal courts, corporations, the nobles and the knights of the magnificent city of Narni. The Ring Race is shown again on Sunday, this time competing only the three historical neighborhoods Mezule, Fraporta and Santa Maria: they will compete in the "campo de li giochi" (playground), the current San Girolamo stadium, in a contest of skill and speed.
Walking in the city during these days of festivities is very nice, it looks like having stepped back in time: everything recalls the medieval period in the costumes, the smells, the sounds and the colors, as well as in the stone of the Narni houses and buildings, its alleys and squares.
Already on the first day of the festival old taverns are open, where visitors can savor cake, wine and traditional dishes from Umbria. The event certainly offers the opportunity for a nice and curious day trip in a land rich in history and traditions.