The ‘Festa dei Ceri’ is dedicated to Saint Ubaldo (15 May), patron of Gubbio and bishop of the city who died in 1160. Three architectures meticulously worked, about 5 metres high and 260 kg heavy, each with a saint representative of a part of Gubbio at the top.
Saint Ubaldo, the patron of the city and of the masonry, is home to a family of ‘ceraioli’ characterized by a yellow colour. Blue is intended for Saint George, the dealer's representative. Finally, in black, the peasants’ ceraioli support Saint Anthony.
During the morning there is the procession and the parade of the three saints. Then, the ‘Alzata’, one of the most exciting moments of the ‘Festa dei Ceri’. In a crowded square, the three ceraioli families fix their saint on top of the Cero. At the sound of the ‘Campanone’, the three structures push forward with a stroke of kidneys and the ceraioli quickly raise the Ceri vertically.
The race start. The Ceri can never be overcome and the order must always be Saint Ubaldo, Saint George and Saint Anthony. If some of the Cero falls, the others stop to wait for him.
The race is divided into 4 sections, for a total of 4 km and 300 meters. Among these stretches, the first is one of the most difficult, because 650 metres are all downhill. After a long second stretch that arrives at Piazza Grande, the third sees two very spectacular moments: ‘girate’ and ‘buchetti’. The girate are three quick turns of the Ceri around the Pennone della Piazza Grande to pay homage to the city authorities, while the buchetti are two narrow uphill streets embedded in the walls that do not allow even the use of arms. This section ends at the Porta of Saint Ubaldo, starting point for the next climb of Ingino Mount.
The fourth and last leg is the most fought. In fact, the ceraioli of Saint George and Saint Anthony try to prevent that, after the long ascent made of dirt and hairpin bends, those who bring the Saint Ubaldo’s Cero to reach the Basilica of the Patron with so much advantage that they can close out the others and reserve for themselves a first devotion all for themselves.
The door (if closed by the Saint Ubaldo’s ceraioli) divides the world into two: the yellow tide rejoices in the cloister by blowing its own Cero and, outside, the motionless crowd from which a disconsolate burrow rises.
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We would like to thank Paolo, a young contributor and editor of the blog Folle di Corsa.
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