No celebration in Narni could beat the one that took place in honour of Saint Juvenal, the first bishop of the city, in terms of lavishness and duration. According to local tradition the celebration was traditionally held on 3rd May. The city statutes were renewed in 1371, codifying the ancient rituals and games that were held in Narni in honour of Juvenal.
From 1st May the town crier made the celebratory event public. On the evening of the 2nd, after compline at sunset, an impressive procession was held. The lights were carried under the fluttering of the gonfalons accompanied by religious choirs and the sound of musical instruments, in the Cathedral where the Castles and Arts Corporations were called upon to make their offer of candles.
On 3rd May, the day dedicated to St. Juvenal, after a solemn religious ceremony in the Cathedral, the celebration became fun, leaving space for the traditional horse races: the Palio and “Corsa all’Anello”.
The latter was reserved for the Narni knights who had their own horses; the Dominus Vicarius invited everyone who intended to race to the ring to line up at the corner of the church of San Salvato in Piazza dei Priori and then to fling their lance or staff through the target worth 100 "Cortonese" coins. The starting order was established by regulations depending on which of the Military Brigades of the three city divisions or Terzieri the knights belonged to: Mezule, Fraporta or Santa Maria.
Brought back again in 1968, the “Corsa all’Anello” stands out on the Italian and European historical re-evocations scene as one of the events that has most successfully explored the connections with its historical traditions.
The celebration as a reconstruction of the events in honour of St. Juvenal in the year 1371, is marked by various occasions organised over two weeks, building up to the second Sunday in May with the “Corsa al Campo”.
It starts with the reading of the Announcement that gives way for the opening of the taverns and the decoration of the city’s streets and squares, followed by the Offer of Candles, the Medieval Days (organised by the three city divisions), the Historical “Corsa all’Anello” and the Historical Procession, which on Saturday evening marches through the city streets lit up by the glimmer of the torches. Over six hundred people dress up in carefully researched authentic costumes. It is opened by musicians followed by the Municipal and Papal Magistratures with the gonfalons and banners, then the city divisions according to the order of arrival of the previous year.
The second Sunday in May, the Historical Procession, with the knights, marches through the square where the “Corsa all’Anello” is held. Each knight, when facing his opponent, must thread three rings through a pole along an elliptical path; upon reaching the third ring a contraption causes the last knight’s target to fall down. It is a competition of ability and speed, in which three knights take part for each division.
Organised by the “Corsa all’Anello” association, the Annus dates (May, June, September and December) are each connected with a saint: St. Juvenal, St. John, St. Michael Archangel and St. Nicholas.
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