Procession of the Dead Christ (Good Friday)
This is organized by the Confraternity of Santa Croce della Foce. It is a symbolic representation of Christ’s Passion, which has been repeated every year for centuries, following a tradition that has never been interrupted. The procession starts with lay brothers dressed in sackcloth and playing instruments called “battistrangole” that produce a rattling noise, and others carrying the objects characteristic of the Passion and the skull that symbolizes Golgotha. Then come the effigies of the Dead Christ and Our Lady of Sorrows, valuable wooden sculptures produced by local craftsmen. Behind the statues of Christ and the Virgin Mary the singers of the Miserere intone their chants, passed down through the centuries by oral tradition. The procession goes through the main streets of the town, starting at nightfall from the Church of Santa Croce. Big bonfires are lit in various places along the route.
The Race of the “Ceri” (May 15th)
This takes place every year on the eve of the feast of the patron Saint Ubaldo. The “Ceri” are three tall, heavy wooden structures on top of which are placed the statues, respectively, of Sant’ Ubaldo (St. Ubald, protector of masons), San Giorgio (St. George, protector of merchants) and Sant’Antonio Abate (Abbot St. Antony, protector of muleteers and peasants).These structures are fixed on to frames (“barelle”), which the Ceri bearers (“ceraioli”) carry on their shoulders while running through the streets of the town and up to the Basilica of Sant’Ubaldo, near the top of Monte Ingino. An evocative ritual takes place before the race. At midday on Piazza Grande one can witness the spectacular raising (“alzata”) of the Ceri; immediately after wards the Ceri complete three laps of the square at high speed, and then parade separately round the streets of the city. Then all three of them pause in Via Savelli, where they remain until the race starts. In the afternoon a procession bearing the statue of Sant’Ubaldo comes out of the Cathedral, and goes to the top of Via Dante, where the Bishop blesses the Ceri; that is the signal for the beginning of the frantic race. After having run through the main streets of the town, they go back to Piazza Grande and do three more laps (“birate”), before reaching the Porta dell’Angelo (known also as Porta di Sant’Ubaldo), where they start climbing up Monte Ingino. The Ceri are placed inside the Basilica of Sant’Ubaldo, whereas the small statues of the three Saints are brought back into town in torchlit procession, accompanied by chanting. It is possible that this festival has its roots in ancient pagan rites, but its Christian character and its celebration of Sant’Ubaldo are historically proven and documented.
For further information: www.festadeiceri.it www.ceri.it
The Crossbow Festival (“Palio della Balestra”) (last Sunday in May)
This a traditional contest using the ancient crossbow resting on a support. The Gubbio and Sansepolcro arbalesters, dressed in typical period costumes, meet every year in the striking setting of Piazza Grande. The object is to hit a target placed at a distance of 36 metres. The arbalester who manages to hit the target in the middle receives as a prize a valuable banner (the “Palio”). During the event one can enjoy the extremely skilful and spectacular performance of the local “Sbandieratori” (ceremonial flag-wavers). At the end of the contest proper a historical pageant involving all the competitors proceeds through the streets of the town. The “Palio” of the Crossbow is repeated on the first Sunday of September in Sansepolcro.
For further information: www.balestrierigubbio.com
The biggest Christmas Tree in the World
Set out on the slopes of Monte Ingino, it consists of 800 lights and 8 km of electric cable. It is lit from December 7th until January 10th.
For further information: www.alberodigubbio.com
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