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  • Ceri Tripletta in Gubbio

Ceri Tripletta in Gubbio

Date: June 1, 2015 - categories: , , , - 3 Comments

This May in Assisi, La Parte de Sotto (“Lower Assisi”) won our four-day medieval festival, Calendimaggio, in a smashing tripletta victory over La Parte de Sopra (“Upper Assisi”: Sopra took home il Palio (the victory banner) for the third year in a row.

And this May, I conquered my own “tripletta”: in late May, I finally saw the race of the Ceri Mezzani (when young me in their late teens, early twenties run the Ceri up Mt. Ingino, backdropping Gubbio). For decades, I’ve been in Gubbio every May 15th for the astounding Corsa dei Ceri when the men run the huge pyramidical wooden structures on their shoulders in a surging relay, all day around the town and then upwards in early evening. A few years ago, I experienced the passione of the younger children mimicking the adults in the Ceri dei Piccoli race.

Gubbio's medieval hilltown splendor backdrops the Ceri races

Gubbio’s medieval hilltown splendor backdrops the Ceri races

And this year – with Marc and Therese (from Arizona) – I rounded out my full “Ceri experience, “ taking in the passione of the young men, i mezzani. After all, if you’re a male born in Gubbio, you run those Ceri every May – or June (June 2nd for the Ceri Piccoli) – from the time you’re old enough to zoom around on your bike until your back tells you it’s time to pass on the Ceri to younger ceraioli.

We felt the passione of all as the three Ceri “rested” in a medieval backstreet, colorful banners flying from windows above, people waving from the windows. As all awaited the priest’s blessing before the run up the mountain, young and old gathered close to the Ceri, in animated conversation about the race as they perched young children up on the Ceri I for a photo memento or reached out to caress the beloved Ceri, many kissing them. Youth in canary yellow shirts, arms around each other, gathered under the Cero di Sant’Ubaldo. Sangiorgiari – in royal blue shirts – would dash behind, the Cero topped with San Giorgio on horseback on their shoulders. Santantoniari in black shirts, the carriers of the Cero di Sant’Antonio, would follow at a dead run.

A poster announces the Ceri Mezzani  events

A poster announces the Ceri Mezzani events

San Giorgio banner adorns a  window box

San Giorgio banner adorns a window box

Banners honoring Sant’Antonio on Gubbio medieval palaces

Banners honoring Sant’Antonio on Gubbio medieval palaces

The colorful banners of all three saints honored in the Ceri race

The colorful banners of all three saints honored in the Ceri race

Colorful banners dangle from windows where Ceri fans gather

Colorful banners dangle from windows where Ceri fans gather

Two young santubaldari united in la passione

Two young santubaldari united in la passione

Young santubaldari heft their Saint

Young santubaldari heft their Saint

San Giorgio mezzani, united for the run and little ones await on the Cero

San Giorgio mezzani, united for the run and little ones await on the Cero

A santubaldaro, ready to go

A santubaldaro, ready to go

Sant’Antonio mezzani, fired up with Ceri passione

Sant’Antonio mezzani, fired up with Ceri passione

An older ceraiolo advises the Sant’Ubaldo mezzani,  ready for their run

An older ceraiolo advises the Sant’Ubaldo mezzani, ready for their run

The santubaldari mezzani get ready to run

The santubaldari mezzani get ready to run

All gather in anticipation, awaiting the priest’s blessing of the Ceri

All gather in anticipation, awaiting the priest’s blessing of the Ceri

All grew quiet as the priest arrived, raised the Crucifix in blessing, flung holy water on the three upright Ceri. Then the cry “VIA!” and they were off and away, running through the twisting medieval backstreets of Gubbio, scores of frantic eugubini running behind.

The blessing of the Ceri

The blessing of the Ceri

And after the blessing, the run with Sant’Ubaldo in the lead

And after the blessing, the run with Sant’Ubaldo in the lead

...and off they go with the eugubini  running right behind

…and off they go with the eugubini running right behind

La passione takes over all as the Ceri dash off

La passione takes over all as the Ceri dash off

We headed to Palazzo dei Consoli, the 14th-century stately city hall, to await the arrival there. The piazza slowly filled, umbrellas went up as the sky dripped a sprinkle, dampening raincoats but not spirits as all awaited the culminating moment: the run of the three Ceri around the red flag in the piazza center. Three times. And from there, up the mountain to the Basilica di Sant’Ubaldo.

The bell tolls, announcing the arrival of the Ceri

The bell tolls, announcing the arrival of the Ceri

Umbrellas are up in Palazzo dei Consoli as all await the arrival of the Ceri - but spirits are not damp

Umbrellas are up in Palazzo dei Consoli as all await the arrival of the Ceri – but spirits are not damp

Three Ceri run three times around the piazza

Three Ceri run three times around the piazza

Sant’Antonio on the run

Sant’Antonio on the run

I talked to young sangiorgiari in the square who’d be carrying their Cero on the run up the mountain.

Young sangiorgiari mezzani:  Lorenzo, Gabriele and Francesco

Young sangiorgiari mezzani: Lorenzo, Gabriele and Francesco

“How does it feel to carry the Cero?” I asked them.
“I do it for the Saint, to do him honor,” Francesco answered solemnly. Gabriele put it this way: “It’s an enormous responsibility to run with the Cero. It’s an honor, it’s a privilege.”

..and any ceraiolo would tell you the same, whether the men running on May 15th, the youth running in late May… or the little ones running their hearts out on June 2nd.

And now, I’ve seen all three Ceri races.

I’ve made la tripletta.

Read about – and see! – the Ceri passione in Gubbio
Click here to read more about Ceri passione
Read about the May 1st entry of the Ceri into Gubbio.
Click here to read about the main race, May 15th
Read about the Ceri Piccoli
Click here to read about an “emotional” May 15th for me
Read why rain never dampens Ceri passione

3 Comments

  • Virginia Lupori says:

    What a great way to inspire the young people to keep the incredible tradition of the ceri going!

  • Jenny Hannan says:

    Fabulous photos Annie! Years rolled back to my first Gubbio festival over 30 years ago…. really enjoyed reading this post. Jen

  • Anne Robichaud says:

    Si, la passione is GRANDE in Gubbio..and wondrous.
    Jen, never knew you were there!
    Virginia, glad you were there on May 15th for the “big ones”

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