Anne's Blog

Bevagna: Passione for the Middle Ages

Date: April 17, 2011 - categories: , , , , - 2 Comments

I often tell my tour guests that appreciating Italian passione is key to fully understanding the Italians. Passione is the underlying theme of all things Italian: from the elegant presentation of colorful gelati behind pristine glass to the artistic display of meats on butcher’s shiny metal trays to the full involvement for months of all the townspeople in preparation for the many local festivals which bring alive Italy’s culture and history.

For the Bevagna festival, a young Australian becomes a medieval dama


Bevagna’s end-of-June medieval festival the Mercato delle Gaite synthesizes the passione of the Bevignati – six-year-olds to the elderly – for the medieval history and culture of their town. All year, the people of the four Bevagna gaite – or sections of the town – research meticulously the trades and traditions giving life to their town in the Middle Ages. During the Mercato delle Gaite festival, the four gaite compete in the re-entactment of medieval banquets (all foods authentically medieval), street fairs and artisan workshops

This year, our group of children and adults joined the Santa Maria gaite for their medieval banquet. The Australian and American teen-agers with me (far taller than their medieval counterparts!) were decked out in medieval costumes as we all joined “the locals” in a medieval banquet featuring lasagne with exotic spices, venison with sweet-and-sour onions and other medieval fare.

Young Americans experience medieval silk production

Young Americans experience medieval silk production

Afterwards, on to see all phases of medieval silk production re-enacted – and painstakingly explained – by costumed Bevignati.

Fresco artists’ apprentices grinding their masters’ colors, paper-makers mincing rags for their paper, elderly women spinning silk floss, friars painstakingly writing illuminated manuscripts, glass-blowers, forgers of swords and shields, laborers in the town mint beating out coins all bring the Middle Ages alive in Bevagna every year at the end of June.

Young Americans experience medieval silk production


Read more here on the Gaite festival in Bevagna

For more on Italian passione, read about Spello‘s festival of passione

Narni‘s medieval May festival

Assisi‘s medieval May festival

Gubbio‘s medieval festival of passione

Perugia‘s July jazz festival, lived with passione

Deruta maiolica passione – and culinary passione!


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Agenzia Viaggi Stoppini in Assisi handles all technical support for my guided visits (bus transportation, organization of meals, etc)