The Palio of Saracino (originally the Saracen jousts) is one of the most interesting events of Tuscia and the most important of Nepi. It was created in 1995 to honour the bond between the town and the Borgia family. The festival is a skilful mix of history, legend, gastronomy and entertainment on the tracks of a glorious past.
It was the year 1499 when Pope Rodrigo Borgia (Alessandro VI) invested his daughter Lucrezia with the Lordship of Nepi. This episode, which traditionally represents the end of the Middle Ages and the passage of the town to the Modern Era, gave the opportunity to create the event through a historical parade in honour of the beautiful Lucrezia.
It is a period in which the most heroic and noble part of the city roots are revived throughout the historic centre of the town, from Porta Nica to Porta Romana, from the Cathedral to the main square, up to the Borgia Castle, involving historical parades, re-enactments and challenges between archers and knights.
The intent of the medieval festival of the Palio of the Saracino is to promote and discover the historical and landscape beauty of Nepi and remember the heroic origins of the town of Viterbo.
During the festival, which takes place for 15 days between the end of May and the middle of June, the whole town is involved in a realistic historical representation with numerous characters.
The village is involved in a parade of hundreds of people, with beautiful period costumes, along the streets of the historical centre decorated for the festivities. All this is accompanied by the rolling of the drums, the blaring of the trumpets and the hurling of the flag-wavers.
Competitors of the event are the 4 districts of Nepi: La Rocca, San Biagio, Santa Maria, Santa Croce, which compete on the field in various competitions, and in the kitchen.
Great importance is also given to the gastronomy of the territory: every evening the bars and taverns of the four Contradas will be open and ready to serve the traditional dishes of the local cuisine.
To serve lovers of good traditional cuisine there will be unique and genuine dishes such as smoked cooked salami and scapicollata, acquacotta of vegetables and the ‘spuntafusi’ (a particular type of pasta made with water and flour) with meat sauce, as well as the desserts and wines of Tuscia.
The rich program includes many interesting and varied events such as the ‘Offerta dei Ceri’ and Blessing of the Palio, the historical “arts and crafts” market, the ‘Sommossa Popolare’, the Ram Race, and the breaking down of the door, all followed by the grand finale: the “Bussolo” of the knights for matching with the Contradas (districts) and for the Games of the Knights for the award of the Palio.
The festivities close with the spectacular historical procession, the Infiorata and Corpus Domini procession through the streets of the city.
This is a top opportunity to discover one of the most evocative towns in the whole of Lazio, a place with magical charm that preserves real medieval treasures, of which the Palio is only one of the exciting performances.