The Corsa dei Ceri de Gubbio – The Most Important Festa in Italy

Italian festivals mostly rely on historical events, and they include processions where people are dressed in costumes belonging to a different era. There are flag-throwers, fireworks, food, and contests between neighbouring towns. Summer is the festival season and people travelling to Italy in summer may find promotion posters of the Festa. Gubbio is located on the Mount Ingino slope, and the Camignano Stream crosses it. This is an Umbrian Medieval city that is dotted with monuments and history that it is sure to fascinate travellers with its illustrious stories.

On May 15th, a century-old tradition ‘Festa dei Ceri’ is celebrated every year in Gubbio on the Feast of Saint’ Ubaldo eve, the patron saint of the town who died in 1160.  Regardless of whether the Feast origins are Pagan and if they have something to relate to with the patron saint, their devotion is not of concern during this feast. Visitors can feel every bit of this passion, the soul and Gubbio’s spellbinding traditions during this season.

The Objective

The main objective is to glorify Saint’ Ubaldo, and there is a race which involves transporting the Ceri from the Santa Maria Nuova church to the basilica. The basilica is in the town centre and is dedicated to the Saint. The Ceri represents three large wooden structures each weighing four quintals, and it is surmounted by the Saint’ Ubaldo statues (protector of masons), Saint’ Antonio Abate (protector of students and farmers), and Saint Giorgio (protector of tradesmen and artisans). These are carried to the Saint’ Ubaldo basilica that is on Mount Ingino, passing through the town centre streets.

The ‘ceraioli’ participates in this race with an enthusiastic crowd following them.  The Ceri is lifted to make three rounds followed by a suggestive ceremony at midday in Piazza Grande which heads the race. They then parade through the city streets before it is taken to Savelli Della Porta. Every year, there is a big crowd with people gathering from all over the globe to enjoy this Umbrian folklore.

About Festa dei Ceri

The fifteenth of May is a stamped date for the Gubbio occupants as the ‘Festa dei Ceri’. This is one of the most energising occasions and also apparently one that is most celebrated in Italy. Gubbio city partakes with the youthful, devout, and old to meet at the Principle Square. They dress in ‘veraioli’ shades, yellow for the Saint Ubaldo, blue for Saint Giorgio’s light and Saint Antonio’s candle is dark blue.

The city roads are brimmed with flags and banners bearing the images of these holy people. The air is flavoured with ‘eugubini’, and the population celebrates it on the day he passed which was on the 16th of May in the year 1160. All the residents make a journey for the event with lit up candles. Right from the first year of celebration, ‘del transito’ – the parade, is organised each year on the eve of his demise. The fifteenth of May is the eve for offering votive candles as ‘ Expressions and Crafts’ Guilds.