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Guest Blog: Passione in Umbria's May Festival

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If you truly wish to experience Italian passione, join “the locals” for their May festivals.
Work goes on all winter in Assisi for the town’s medieval welcome to spring in early May, the Calendimaggio. In an explosion of color, excitement, and astounding creativity, the Assisani celebrate spring with three days of medieval dance, street theater, choral music, contests and pageantry. They don’t care if tourists join in the May medieval splendor (most of the stands are filled with Assisians): this festival is about THEM and those long-awaited three days when they can live again the Middle Ages – – with passione. 

What else but passione pushes those Eugubini (the townspeople of Gubbio) to raise up the three huge (approximate weight: nearly 700 lbs) wooden pyramidical structures, the Ceri, and race them all day through the streets and then up the mountain back-dropping Gubbio? As for most any Italian medieval festivals, the roots of the Corsa dei Ceri are both pagan and Christian. The ceri (“candlesticks”) could represent those carried in the funeral procession of their patron saint, St. Ubaldo in the 12th c. Then again, Cerfus was the Umbrian god of fertility and the ceri certainly have a phallic aspect! In any case, the origins are lost in history – and on May 15th, no one cares.

By Anne Robichaud, the only American authorized as an Umbrian Regional tour guide. Read about her Umbrian hilltown tours, cooking classes in her home and in the US and her "memoirs of rural life" on www.annesitaly.com. Enjoy the many stories on her blog http://annesitaly.com/blog/