Palio of Fucecchio

A historical reconstruction of the ‘Palio della Lancia’ preceded by a parade of more than a thousand participants

21 May 2017

Palio-Fucecchio
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Fucecchio, a town in Southern Valdarno near Florence, will hold the traditional Palio di Fucecchio at the Buca d'Andrea' on May 21st. It is a historical reconstruction of a dispute which occurred in 1200. The horse race, which is held every year on the third Sunday of May, along with the impressive parade of re-enactors that precedes it, is the final of a series of events that start the previous week. From May 14th onwards, the atmosphere in Fucecchio begins to fill with anticipation for the Palio that after a series of adrenaline-filled events, reaches its climax with the horse race that takes place on Sunday afternoon. But the ‘fever’ definitely starts much earlier for the inhabitants of Fucecchio, constituting a conversation topic throughout the whole year. Everyone has their own say: expectations, strategies, criticisms and proposals. Even in the local Fucecchio news references to the Palio are not missing, discussing whether this or that horse will race in the following edition. So although we are not in Siena, Fuceccio takes its Palio equally seriously.

The Palio, originally called 'Palio della Lancia, is an event that commemorates a contest held in 1200. It is known for sure that the reconstructions took place until 1863, year in which the tradition was abandoned. Fortunately, in 1981 the efforts of theGruppo Donatori Sangue Fratres have kept the Palio Fucheccio alive and let it inspirit springtime in Fucecchio, Italy. Participants include 12 of the Fucecchio districts and the saddle-mount has gradually been replaced by the original fur one. The Fucecchio Palio is organized every year by the Comune di Fucecchio in collaboration with the ‘Associazione Palio delle Contrade città di Fucecchio'. The 'Palio fever' in Fucecchio begins to grow right from the Sunday before the race, thanks to a slow approach to the climax event. A series of important and mesmerizing events mixing old traditions and folklore with the lively participation of the Fucecchio Tuscany inhabitants follow one another.

  • SUNDAY, May 14th: PALIO IN GIOCO AND THE FESTA DELLE CONTRADE. The Palio of Fucecchio starts by getting children involved: it is their turn to feel proud during the morning parade at 10.30am. To entertain the small participants and all the children present there will be inflatables, ponies and cheerful moments. In the afternoon, in Piazza Vittorio Veneto Fucecchio, medieval games will also be organized.
  • TUESDAY, MAY 16th: PRESENTATION OF CENCIO' (RAG). At 9pm in Piazza Vittorio Veneto in Fucecchio, the first official event of the Palio Fucecchio 2017 will be held: 'the presentation of the cencio’, which will go to the winning district. Each year the making of the rag is assigned to a local artist who will give voice to their creativity whilst making sure they comply with the precise details described in the list of rules.
  • WEDNESDAY, May 17th: TRATTA. At 9pm in the bustling Piazza Montanelli in Fucecchio, according to the tradition resumed in 2000, the pairings between horses and districts are drawn during a lottery. Followed by their noisy procession, the lucky rider chosen by their district gets close to the table where the fate will decide the combination. This lucky rider is an important person chosen for several reasons: either because they have proved to be the bearer of good fortune or because they play an important and significant role in the district. When the pairing has been established, the horse racing in the Palio of Fucecchio is dressed in the colours of the Fucecchio district they belong to. Some of the most skilled jockeys have raced in the Palio of Fucecchio, amongst them Aceto, Ciancino, Bufera and young promising ones, including Gingillo and Bighino.
  • THURSDAY MAY 18th AND FRIDAY 19th: PRACTICE AT BUCA D'ANDREA. Practice sessions take place at 5.30pm and are a good opportunity to let the horse riders, horses and district folk familiarize with each other as well as to outline the strategies deemed to guarantee the victory.
  • SATURDAY, MAY 20th. SIGNING OF THE JOCKEYS. This is the eve of the Fucecchio Palio with little time left: the jockeys make a formal commitment to the district during a ceremony held in the beautiful Parco Corsini in Fucecchio. In the districts, as per to tradition, people spend joyful moments together with food, drinks and singing, whilst waiting for the following day’s explosion of adrenaline.
  • SUNDAY, MAY 21st 9am: FUCECCHIO HISTORICAL PARADE. The wonderful Fucecchio historical procession which precedes the Palio is composed of over a thousand costumed re-enactors. They walk through the main streets of the town, from Piazza Aldo Moro up to via Castruccio. You are advised to find your way around with a Fucecchio map to avoid the chance of missing one of the most stunning historical parades in Tuscany.
  • SUNDAY, MAY 21st 4pm: THE HORSE RACE. Finally after so many preparations one of the most anticipated events in Fucecchio will unfold in the sand ring of Buca d'Andrea, simply called 'la buca' (the pit). The tickets of the Palio di Fucecchio can be purchased on site or in several shops in the town. You can buy a cheap one on the grass or opt for a more comfortable but pricier seated one. Visit the official website for all related information: http://www.paliodifucecchio.it/. The race begins with two heats with 6 competing horses in each one and continues with the final race of the eight remaining horses: the winning four from the previous races. The winner is awarded the coveted Palio di Fucecchio and led to their belonging district. Here, as per tradition, celebrations carry on through the night with ample quantity of alcohol consumed.

The Fucecchio Palio 2016 was won by the Contrada Massarella, if you are dying to know who will win it this year you just need to plan a weekend here and why not a few more days in Tuscany. You can base yourself in Florence, which is 50 km from Fucecchio, and stay at one of our hotels in Florence. Take the opportunity to discover some amusing facts about this wonderful city: we are certain our Florence tours will appeal even the most inquisitive amongst you. If your choice is instead for a more intimate city, you can book one of the hotels in Pistoia, which is only 35 km away.

Whichever your choice, do not miss the Fucecchio Palio and the chance to be plunged into the Middle Ages!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff