There is a place in Umbria where the medieval tradition is not just an annual event, but a veritable bastion of wonderful origins: Narni. Narni, "Superba et Ribelle", inspired painters and poets of all times and the beautiful fantasy chronicles of Lewis.
The first historical information on Narni, at the time "Nequinum", dates back to 600 BC, but the area was inhabited since the Neolithic era. In 299 BC it was a Roman colony, renamed Narnia and in 233 BC it became an important fortification and strategic center for the construction of the consular road Via Flaminia.
It rises on a spur of rock, dominating the gorge of the Nera river and the Terni plain; the town has always been difficult to conquer, due to the harshness of the slopes that have influenced its form and urban development. Near the border between Umbria and Lazio, Narnia was used as a road junction of fundamental importance for controlling the practicability between Rome and the Adriatic Sea, linking its fortunes to this role for centuries and suffering sieges and destruction for this reason.
The Corsa all’Anello of Narni is one of the most prestigious historical events in Europe, pointing out the importance of history that has designed a past rich in wonderful events and works and that today more than ever, is projected towards the future.
Palazzo dei Priori, is the beating heart of the Corsa all’Anello (24 April - 12 May 2019). In the recently restored spaces, where the headquarters of the Association Corsa all'Anello is located, numerous exhibitions, as well as tastings, music and shows will be set up and held to enliven the historic Palace. The exhibitions will start from the basement of Palazzo dei Priori, which can be visited for the first time.
Enhancing the architectural beauties of the place through shows and quality events, reconstructing places and moments of history and local traditions, involving the public in a rediscovered sense of the party as a sharing of their own identity, deepening and spreading the peculiarities of a historical period such as the Middle Ages, are some of the objectives that the Ente Corsa all'Anello aims to, combining culture, art and gastronomy.
"To revive Palazzo dei Priori, completely set up and open to visitors - said the president of the Associazione Corsa all'Anello Federico Montesi - was one of the objectives that this team had set itself immediately. The idea is to make this space live through contents suitable for a heterogeneous public, so that the visit takes place through elements of excellence of our history, ancient and contemporary art, as well as local food and wine experiences ".
“Reinventing the spaces of Palazzo dei Priori by designing exhibition, socializing and aggregation environments - added the PR manager Emiliano Luciani - was immediately one of our priorities. This year is a small step towards the goal of making a real jewel out of the building, designed to be enjoyed by both citizens and visitors. The aim is to raise more and more the cultural level that the Corsa all’Anello has represented for years on the territory, seeking the right balance between fun and art ".
Successfully recreated in 1969, the modern edition of the Corsa all'Anello stands out in the panorama of national and European Historical Festivals as one of the events that more than others has sought connections with its own historical tradition, activating the forces of volunteers and citizens, cornerstone and engine for a tourist and cultural development of the territory.
No feast in the past, in Narni exceeded for pomp and duration this one, which took place in honor of the Saint Juvenal, First Bishop of the city. According to the local worship the festival is traditionally held on 3rd May. The city statutes renewed in 1371, decreed the ancient rites and the ludi that took place in Narni in honor of Juvenal defensor civitatis.
On May 1st the city Crier announced the beginning of the celebrations. On the evening of 2nd May, after the sunset, an imposing procession took place: the parade went under the waving of banners, accompanied by the religious choirs and the sound of musical instruments, to the Cathedral where Castles and Corporations were called to present their wax offering.
On May 3rd, the day dedicated to the Saint Juvenal, after a solemn religious ceremony in the Cathedral, the festival took on its own ludic character, leaving space for the traditional equestrian games, the race of the Palio and the Corsa all’Anello.
The first one was a competition of pure speed, to which the milites and equites could register their horses led by a young rider. The prize was a silk Palio with a length of about six meters worth three pounds of gold.
The Corsa all’Anello was reserved to the Narnese knights. The Dominus Vicarius invited those who wanted to ride, to line up at the corner of the church of St. Salvato on the main square (Platea Major, the present-day Piazza dei Priori) and then ride with their spear in order to get the ring worth 100 coins. The starting order for the knights was established following the different parts the town they belonged to, the so-called Terzieri (Districts): Mezule, Fraporta, Santa Maria.
Over time, especially during the sixteenth century, many other events and shows were added to the traditional games; among them: the battle between the buffalo and the bull, the fight, the quintana, the comedies prepared by the young Narni inhabitants, a breakfast offered by the local women.
As in the medieval Narni, today again during the Corsa all’Anello, the city is divided into the original three districts: Mezule the upper area surrounding the castle, the Rocca; Fraporta the central part of the town between Piazza dei Priori and the cathedral, and Santa Maria from the ancient church of S. Maria Impensole to the city gate Porta Polella.
Nowadays the “terzieri” are still important meeting centers for the inhabitants who offer their commitment and their competences; particularly interesting is the passion that is shared by the young and the less young people, a consequence of deep respect for the common roots and culture.
Every district has created its own stable for the preparation of the skilled riders of the Corsa all'Anello, who therefore can train all year round. Women work in costume shops under the guidance of historical costume designers in order to create the costumes for the procession. The production of each dress is the fruit of both in-depth researches, through the iconography and documents of the time, on the fabrics, on the cuts and on the character, and the work of highly skilled hands that know how to transform fabrics into splendid 14th century clothes.
The young people meet to prepare the medieval days: they study scenes and settings, shows and dramas, the preparation of real tableaux vivants that reproduce images of famous painters of 14th century.
Taverns are the space where convivial moments are consumed. The characteristic rooms set up with typical furnishings, offer the atmosphere of ancient times combined with the traditional flavors of tradition.
The result of the whole work is a historical re-enactment that gives you a hint of what a 14th century Umbrian day looked like.
The 2019 edition of the Corsa all’Anello celebrates the past and the present by telling its first fifty years through the historical memory of all those who have experienced the exciting moments of the event, the real eye witnesses of an era, through video contributions shot over the years. The project is called The Path of Time and will run along Via Garibaldi, the main street of the historic center of Narni.
A journey in stages in the history of the Corsa all'Anello, this is the first big news announced by the newly elected Corsa all'Anello association, which has been working on several projects. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the event, the choreographic sector has suggested to realize an installation that will retrace the main stages of the festival, through the vast audiovisual archive preserved and yet to be discovered. Each stage will report a particularly meaningful year for the history of the event between 1969 and 2019.
"This represents for us - explain the Association Corsa all'Anello - a first goal of a more ambitious project, a challenge, the foundation of an archive of the Popular Audiovisual Memory of the city of Narni. The project will not only concern the Corsa all’Anello but all the involuntary testimonies of the common people who found themselves over the years filming the dear things of their lives, today a significant source for the interpretation of our history and our near future ".