The old umbrian town Nequinum was conquered by the Romans in 299 b.C., becoming a colony,
then a municipium named Narnia.
Witnesses of that time are the Augustus' Bridge, the roman aquaeduct "la
Formina", and the old city-gate "Porta Superior".
In the Middle Ages Narni lived its best period: the local romanic architecture is still
well preserved in the Cathedral dedicated to St.Giovenale, and in the churches of St.Maria
Maggiore and St.Maria Impensole, in the later Palazzo Comunale (the Town hall), St.Francis
and St.Augustine. Not only the big buildings bear witness to this time, but also the
little squares, the narrow streets, the towers and the arches do.
In 1367 the castle (la Rocca) was built on account of the Cardinal Albornoz. The
Renaissance transformed the old city centre, building new churches and convents, palaces
and beautiful courts.
THE RACE TO THE RING :
The main feast in the medieval
Narni was dedicated to the Saint Patron Giovenale, taking place each year on the 3rd of
The city laws (Statuti) dating back to 1371 codify the old rites: the Race of the Palio
and the Race to the Ring (Corsa all'Anello).
The first race was a speed competition among horses, while the second one was a
competition among the riders of the three parts (Terzieri) the town was divided into:
Mezule, Fraporta and S.Maria; it consisted in inserting a long lance into a silver ring
while riding at full galopp. The race took place on the main square (Platea Major), the
present Piazza dei Priori.
Nowadays the race takes place on the 2nd Sunday in May, and during the two weeks preceding
the race in the whole town of Narni everything speaks for the feast, contributing to
create the atmosphere of 1371.
Flags ad torches adorn squares and streets, from the taverns (where you can try the
typical umbrian meals and a very good wine) and the bakeries good food's fragrances come
into the streets.
The whole town houses medieval sounds and colours. Historical processions, art
exhibitions, folk shows, concerts, competitions among the Terzieri, everything shares in
transforming the town into a medieval picture.
The town's three Terzieri have different colours, so that they can be recognised by
everyone, and the costumes taking part to the procession - with more than 600 figures -
have several colours too, according to each figure's status inside the medieval town.
The Festival "Minima Medievalia" investigates a different medieval matter each
year, always dealing with history, art and culture of that time.
THE MAIN EVENTS
The Offer of the Candles
in the Cathedral (May, 2nd)
Corsa all'Anello Storica
- This evocative display
reminds us of the city authorities' offer of candles ( brought also by the representants
of castles and guilds ) to the tomb of the Saint Patron on the occasion of his feast.
According to the comunal laws of 1371, the city's dignitaries still cross the whole town
at night, to go to the Cathedral, where they pay homage to the Bishop. The historical Race
to the Ring ( May, 3rd ) The race takes place on the Platea Major, the modern Piazza dei
Priori, according to the codes of 1371. It consists of a horse competition, in which the
riders have to take a silver ring with their long lances.
The historical Procession
(Saturday before the 2nd Sunday in May)
- The cortege represents the
Procession which was held in honour of St. Giovenale; it is opened by the Pope and the
City's authorities of 14th century. The representants of the Terzieri, of the Guilds and
the city's noble famlies follow in the procession.
The Race to the Ring (2nd
Sunday in May)
- It is a charming contest
among the riders of Mezule, Fraporta and S.Maria, who have to ride with their horses along
an elliptical running, trying to take three rings with their lances. Thanks to an
electrical skill the first rider who comes to the last ring, makes the other ring fall, so
that the other rider cannot take it anymore