There’s a single religious moment in Assisi’s four-day medieval celebration of spring, rooted in pagan rituals: the blessing of the banners of the town’s two rival factions, la Parte de Sopra (“Upper Assisi”) and la Parte de Sotto (“Lower Assisi”).
All the partaioli of Lower Assisi, gathered at the Basilica of San Francesco for the blessings while the Parte de Sopra contingent united in front of the Cathedral of San Rufino, focal point of “our side.” Si! (Our three children participated with full passione in Calendimaggio as little ones, dressed in medieval garb, cheering their hearts out for “Sopra”).
That same passione was palpable yesterday as Sopra’s drummers beat out Calendimaggio emotions and our crossbowers grouped to file into the Cathedral. Lords took the hands of ladies, young dame in rich velvet blue costumes joined the parade of medieval personages, the sculpted doorway of our 12th-c cathedral, an elegant backdrop.
The banners of Sopra
When the great central doors opened, nobility filed into our 12th-century church, heads held high. Even the small children in medieval dress emanated solemnity.
Our five candidates for Madonna Primavera (“Lady Spring”) were there in the apse area, too, close to the three banners laid out in front of the altar.
The priest flung holy water on the banners, blessing them – and then announced the official start of Calendimaggio, wishing la Parte de Sopra serenity during the festivities…and una bella vittoria.
The applause seemed to lift the cathedral’s vaulted ceiling.
Read – and see! – euphoric medieval passione in Assisi during Calendimaggio
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Read about Calendimaggio preparations, usually with Gina…