This time I will show you a little bit different face of Alba – Alba that not only feeds good, but also respects its own history and likes joking. 80 years have already passed since the first Palio degli Asini (the donkey race) was organized. Every year it takes place on the first Sunday of October, at the beginning of Alba International White Truffle Fair and certainly it’s one the most expected Piedmont (in Italy) touristic attractions.
The idea of this untypical competition was born in 1275, when the Langhe capital was in continuous conflict with nearby Asti. During a siege of Alba, the enemy troops arranged palio under the town walls. Defending citizens decided to sneer at adversary by organizing the caricature of race, replacing horses with … donkeys. In honor of this event every year we can participate not only in unique palio, but also in other different attractions.
On October 7th Alba main streets changed the image – windows and balconies were decorated with colorful flags and more than one thousand people dressed in vivid, Medieval costumes were marching through the center of the town. Choosing a comfortable place and using your imagination, you could transfer yourself in time. Ladies in richly decorated dresses, knights on horses, peasants with wagons filled with vegetables, the Church members, there were even jailers chasing escaping prisoners and a grim symbol of Death with scythe.
The parade characters were divided into nine borghi, subburbs in the past: Borgo delle Rane, Borgo di San Martino, Borgo del Fumo, Borgo della Moretta, Borgo di Santa Barbara, Borgo di Santa Rosalia, Borgo di San Lorenzo, Borgo dei Patin e Tesor, Borgo dei Brichet that competed in donkey race. Before the competition representatives of each borgo supposed to recall some historical event. Borgo Moretta (the current and previous winner), for example, played the battle from March 4th 1274 when more than two thousand Asti soldiers were captured. These poor guys transported in a big cage, from which from time to time they managed to escape, were arousing the biggest affection of the audience.
A significant role in the show played agile sbandieratori, as well, entertaining spectators with a spectacular flag flipping.
It’s not the end of time travelling in the capital of Langhe. On October 20th and 21st, during il Baccanale del tartufo event, you will have a chance to get to know closer of Medieval Alba citizens live, too.