The Palio of the Contrade di Artena: a festive explosion

The “Palio delle Contrade di Artena” is love for the territory, the Contrade (districts), for the history, for the events, for the characters who animated the life of this beautiful city that is still marked by the mule’s step: firm and decisive.

Artena is a beautiful village perched on a steep slope near Rome and one that annually hosts one of the most enjoyable and participated festivals: the Palio delle Contrade. The Palio is a series of games that bring to light the agricultural tradition of the town and that are a pretext to have fun and entertain visitors while reliving the tradition of the town.

It is an idea that since 1990 brings together the whole municipality, attracting the attention of tourists and onlookers. It all starts with the beautiful and sparkling historical parade with noble and common people: over a thousand people and animals including mules, donkeys, horses and cows. It starts from Piazza della Vittoria and finishes at the park of Villa Borghese.

The historical procession is accompanied by knights and flag-wavers who form a frame of costumes and colours for the event. The procession, now usually led by a “peak” of oxen, is the most fascinating moment because it recalls a condition of lifestyle that no longer exists today.

The origins of this competition date back to the eighteenth century and are rooted in the rural history of Artena: the games are born from the customs and traditions of the time and recall the magic of the past.

The ten districts contend for the victory, disputing in about 20 popular games: from running with a cart to singing in dialect, from sardamonte to woodchopping.

The competitions refer to moments of life and represent a ‘peek’ into the everyday life of ancient Artena.

The carefree atmosphere does not however preclude the competitive climate between the different districts that sometimes becomes ‘hot’. The games are the theatre of the palio: they create the controversy but at the end they make everyone embrace, between a glass of wine and a traditional dish.

For nine days in August the show and the gastronomy are guaranteed. The enhancement of the area comes above all from these things.

Transmitting news and testimonies from the past is what today serves to bring to life and actualise the ancient “rituals”, linked to a past time, never forgotten. What better guardian of this treasure than the town and its inhabitants?

Guide of Artena

Artena, near Rome, is a lovely hillside town located on the north-eastern slopes of the Lepini mountains, in the upper […]