Magical May- Corsa all’Anello

May 10th, 2014
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Corsa logo

If you’ve been to La Romita before, then you’ve visited Narni. Narni is the medieval town that’s down the La Romita hill, just past the south-west edge of Terni, nestled in the slopes of hills that run northwest to southeast and southeast along Umbria’s border with Lazio.  One of the most memorable images of Narni is “La Rocca”, the restored castle visible above the town.

Over this past weekend, Jane Coonce’s “Under Umbrian Skies” participants visited Narni for the Corsa all’Anello, a medieval festival celebrated in Narni whose documented origins date to 1371 (Source: Wikipedia). The modern Corsa, a recreation of the original festival celebrating Narni’s patron saint Giovenale di Narni, was first held in 1969. The festival begins the last week in April and ends on the second Sunday in May with the Corsa itself, a competition between horse-back mounted contestants from Narni’s terzieri to collect,  with a lance, a suspended ring (anello). Terzieri are like city quadrants, except there are three rather than four: the race is held in an elliptical stadium just outside the city center.  Each terziero – Mezula, Fraporte, and Santa Maria — has its own heraldic icon and flag.

The night before the Corsa — the night Jane’s group went– the entire town of Narni transforms into a medieval pageant. 600 role-players– citizens of Narni– dress up in medieval and early Renaissance garb and walk in a procession through the medieval streets, which are illuminated by torches (both real and artificial) and decorated with the colored flags of each terziero. There are musicians, courtiers, people representing various professions and guilds (for example the “Bowmen of Gattamelata) and (“Flagbearers of Narni”), and of course the contestants for the upcoming race, which is taken very seriously by all. You can see a list of the winning, second, and third place terzieri dating back to 1969 here.

It’s an amazing event– still relatively undiscovered outside the region and utterly authentic– and we are so happy to be able to share it with our La Romita visitors. It’s an unforgettable experience.