Celebrating Spring in Assisi: the Calendimaggio

calendimaggio di assisi

The tradition of celebrating the arrival of spring is lost in the mists of time and returns every year to Assisi, on the first Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays after May 1st, with the medieval parade of Calendimaggio.

The Nobilissima Parte de Sopra (Noble Part of the Above) and the Magnifica Parte de Sotto (Magnificent Part of the Below), in which Assisi is divided for four days, will compete in skill and a jury will decide the victory.

Calendimaggio starts on Wednesday with the blessing of the banners in San Rufino (for the Nobilissima Parte de Sopra) and San Francesco (for the Magnifica Parte de Sotto) followed by the start of the procession of the Ente Calendimaggio and the arrival in Piazza del Comune with the performance of the Curfew Anthem by the choirs of the two sides. After receiving the keys of the city from the mayor of Assisi, a symbolic act with which the mayor of the city offers the Maestro de Campo judicial power for the period of the event, the Maestro di Campo assumes sovereign powers. Follows the entrance of the parades, the return of the Palio, the greeting of the President-Magistrate of the Calendimaggio, and the presentation and investiture of the jurors.
After reading the challenge notices, an opportunity to verbally strike the opponent with the weapons of irony and sarcasm, the exit of the processions through Corso Mazzini and Piazza Santa Chiara. To give an appointment in the evening to the re-enactments of medieval life in the Parte de Sopra.

Thursday is the day of “Madonna Primavera” (Queen of Spring), the queen of the festival elected after agility and skill tests among the sportsmen of Magnifica and Nobilissima. The victory of Madonna Primavera does not affect the awarding of the Palio but entitles the winners to perform first in the medieval scenes of the following year. The challenge games between the parties are the crossbowmen’s shooting competition, the race of the tregge (the ancient carts used to transport the hay in the most inaccessible areas of the Assisi mountains) and tug of war. In the evening, in Parte de Sotto, the re-enactments of medieval life.

Friday is the day of “Lo Spettacolo” (The Show), the theater, the flag wavers of Assisi and the participation of the Madonnas Primavera and the Tamburini of the two sides; in the evening, from 9.30 pm, “La Tenzone”, with the sound of the Laudi bell and the entrance of the evening parades with the spectacular fire games.

Finally, Saturday is the day of “The Challenge”, with the historical parades staged by the Parties in Piazza del Comune and at 21.30 it is the turn of “Il Canto”, the singing challenge between the Parties and, subsequently, the end of Calendimaggio with the awarding of the Palio.

Benedetta Tintillini

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