The May 15th is a date marked in red on the calendar of every Gubbio. It is the day of the religious festival of Gubbio (PG).
The origins of this festival are rooted in centuries. Some scholars date it back to the pagan ceremonies in honor of the goddess Ceres. Still others speculate the 1154 celebrations after the victory of Gubbio against 11 allied cities. But the most likely hypothesis, as well as the same beloved by Gubbio, is attributable to the figure of Ubaldo Badassini , Bishop of Gubbio in the twelfth century and today the patron saint of the city, St. Ubaldo .
Ubaldo, beloved by the people, died on May 16 of 1160 , and all citizens made a pilgrimage with lighted candles. Since then, the procession of the transit takes place every year on the eve of his death, precisely May 15, with the offer of votive candles from the Corporations of Arts and Crafts. And, as it is written in Statum Eugubii 1338 , members of the guilds richest, that of the Masons, and Merciai Vetturari, “they went Iubilantes et gaudentes with three Cereos Magnos of wood, covered with wax.”
The Cereos Magnos of wood, Ceri , are still part of today’s highlight of the festivities. Namely the Corsa dei Ceri , one of the craziest, features and crazy in Italy. Small detail: it is uphill.
The Ceri are three tall, heavy wooden respectively surmounted by statues of St. Ubaldo (patron of the Masons), of San Giorgio(protector of Merciai) and Sant’Antonio Abate (patron of Asinary and Farmers, now also of Students) . Weigh about 300-400 kg each. They are fixed on stretchers to “H” through which ceraioli (10 for each “manicchia” or pole. The manicchie are 4) lead them to shoulder and ran through the streets of the city to the Basilica of St. Ubaldo , the peak the front of Mount Ingino in Gubbio.
The organizational part of the race is entrusted to the “First Captain” and the “Second Captain”, elected by lot among enrolled in the University of the Masons with two years early, at 7:30 am on May 15 at the church of San Francesco della Pace (that of the Masons ), among those whose families, three generations at least, belong to the category and are now foremen. The captains elected, in turn, choose three “Capodieci”, one for each candle, and nine substitutes, committed to working with them. The Capodieci recruit ceraioli, often among friends and relatives, they drive their Cero and “organize”, coordinating ceraioli in teams and shifts. Every 70 meters (maximum distance traveled by a man, both for his physical safety and for that of the candle), in fact, there are the “mute” parts. The Capodieci is also the protagonist of the charming ceremonial start of the race, starting at 11:45 at Piazza Grande : the tolling of the bells of the Palazzo dei Consoli happens l ‘” Raising of the Candles “, with Capodieci used that jumps up on own Cero, the fixed to the stretcher, firmly to ensure stability, the crown with the statue of the saint. Then, between Cero stretcher and spills the water of which was filled with beautiful ceramic jug Gubbio, and then throw it away, with those present who rush to seize the shards considered good luck charms. The three candles are then on display for the city.
The Corsa dei Ceri real, 4km from the narrow climbs and descents of Gubbio, leaves at 18:00 . The candles have to run at the maximum possible speed. And yes it is a mad rush, but it is not a race, because we must respect the starting order of arrival, Ubaldo head. The ceraioli best will be chosen directly by the whole people of Gubbio.
For more information about the Festa dei Ceri and the Corsa dei Ceri, we refer to the following websites: