Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Palio of Legnano: a historic and historical rievocation of a decisive medieval Lombard battle

You've heard, I'm sure, of the Palio of Siena, well there's one in Lombardy, too!

Celebrated in Legnano each year on the day of the battle, May 29, it commemorates the victory at that city on the 29th of May, 1176, of Lombard troops over the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick the Redbeard of the Hapsburg dynasty (a FASCINATING fellow). He thought he could push the Lombards around...ain't that just like an emperor for ya'?...More......

The palio, or commemorative horse race, was first celebrated in Milan in 1393, it seems, but the race as we know it today (significantly) began in 1932 (those are the years the Italians call "of the Consensus"...the years of fairly prevalent acceptance--sometimes wholehearted, sometimes out of necessity--of the iron fist of Mussolini in exchange for order and peace after decades of chaos, so evocations during that stretch of time often recalled years of Italian glory, frequently of the ancient Roman empire, but also of periods of local splendor).

Why "historic and historical"? Aaaaah, here's where one of my "soapboxes" comes in.

These two words often are confused, but--though they look alike--mean something quite different.

"Historic" describes something that IS old: "The mausoleum of the ancient Roman emperor Hadrian on the bank of the Tiber in Rome is a historic monument." (N.B., to head off criticism from U.K. English readers: in American-style punctuation, periods, commas and question and exclamation marks go INSIDE quotation marks; only colons and semi-colons go OUTSIDE...we now return you to your regular program.)

"Historical" describes something not necessarily old in and of itself (though the years pass for everything), but which commemorates and/or evokes something old: "Ivanhoe is a historical novel."

Interested in attending the palio?

The events in Legnano begin at 10:30 in front of the church S. Magno. A map of the city is available (in Italian) by clicking on "cartografia" more or less in the center of the city's home page:

After that, just let yourself be carried along with the crowds to the other events.

Alas and alack, more and typical shortsightedness...I know, I know, we're in Italy, so people should learn to speak and read Italian, but if these Italians want to attract international tourists, they'd better wise up, and always have a complete copy of their website in English. Not the case, here, I'm afraid: Palio di Legnano,

Do I hear snickers in the background about the potentially folksy amateurish ignorant mixture of forms of historical costumes, arms, armor and whatnots from different periods, just to seem old and snare tourists? Think again. The website promises that all aspects have had to be approved by an official committee dedicated to scholarly rigor. That's called "Living History," and it's a great way to learn and have fun--bring the whole family!--at the same time.





Dericksen Brinkerhoff said...

Didn't know that. Love.

Margaret said...

I studied in Siena in college, but I had to leave before the Palio.

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