Calendimaggio of Assisi, History and Events
Calendimaggio of Assisi is an event that is very close to the hearts of the inhabitants of the city. Many tourists and curious people come to the city of Saint Francis every year to attend this spectacular event, rich in history and events.
The History of Calendimaggio of Assisi
The return of spring and the end of the winter has been celebrated since the time of the Ancient Umbrians. The coming of spring brought renewed joy in life; rebirth after the dark winter. People loved to celebrate spring by dancing, singing and drinking wine.
Saint Francis also loved to compose songs and poems and, it was in the period in which he lived that the songs written and performed by the young people of the various districts of Assisi were called “May Songs”.
In the 1300’s, when Assisi was at its maximum splendour, the city began to divide into the “Parte de Sotto” (Lower Part) and “Parte de Sopra” (Upper Part), due to the rivalry between the Fiumi and Nepis families. There were many clashes between the two factions; vendetta and the hunger to win took over, but the desire to celebrate spring and the renewal of life always remained very strong.
It was thus, that despite the rivalry and bloody clashes, Calendimaggio was celebrated every year. Dancing, song and carefree moments made the rivalry between the factions be forgotten for a few days and a May King was elected every year during the celebrations.
The custom went on for centuries, but in 1954 Calendimaggio changed and became the celebration that we know today. During the festival the “Parte de Sotto” and the “Parte de Sopra” continue to challenge each other for victory, as happened centuries ago, while the locals and crowds of tourists flock to Assisi to enjoy this wonderful festival (source: Calendimaggiodiassisi.com).
Calendimaggio and its Events
Unlike a few years ago, when the festival always took place from 29th April to 1st May, Calendimaggio does not take place on a specific date. It has been decided that it will take place from the first Wednesday of May until the following Saturday.
There are many events that are repeated every year, as tradition commands. The “Benedizione dei Vessilli” (Blessing of the Banners), takes place before the start of the challenge between the two parts; a brief heartfelt religious ceremony, important to everyone.
Successively, the Mayor gives the keys of the city to the Maestro de Campo (Master of the Tournament Field) and the “bandi di sfida” (invitations to challenge) are read by the two parts. The Madonna Primavera (Spring Queen) is elected among processions and acts of strength and skill and representations of medieval life then take place.
The festival continues with the “corteo della sera” (night procession), where the two parts challenge each other again, while the “corteo del giorno” (day procession) presents mediaeval scenography and choreographies of great visual impact.
The “sfida canora” (singing competition) then follows in the evening, where the choirs from each part challenge each other with three pieces. Finally, the verdict of the jurors is proclaimed by the Maestro de Campo (source: Calendimaggiodiassisi.com).
Take part in Calendimaggio
This event attracts many visitors and is extremely important to the people of Assisi, who are committed to organising the festival every year. It is a time of joy and celebrations that mark the return of spring; a tradition deep-rooted in Assisi over the centuries.
In 2018 the “Parte de Sopra”, the part where hotel il Duomo is located, was victorious. In 2019 Calendimaggio will take place from 8th to 11th May and Assisi is already preparing itself for the event.
If you love the mediaeval atmosphere and its traditions and you would like to visit wonderful Assisi so you too can feel part of the city and the festival, don’t miss out on this time of celebration. You are still in time to plan your visit and enjoy the events that characterise Calendimaggio every year.