"Festa di Ceri - GET OUT OF THE WAY!" Top 5 Page for this destination Gubbio Warnings Or Dangers Tip by Trekki
Gubbio Warnings and Dangers: 5 reviews and 15 photos
Festa di Ceri is famous throughout Italia and definitely the most important event for every Eugubino (Gubbio’s locals). But unlike many other Italian festivals (especially in Venezia, Firenze and other cities which are overrun by tourists) it is very much authentic and no set-up for visitors (and it will never be one). The Eugubini are celebrating to the fullest, this is all in their blood since birth.
Anyone who is in Gubbio during this time and has never seen or attended this festa before should keep in mind some very simple rules. Although Eugubini are certainly welcoming to visitors 364 days of the year, don’t expect them to do this on May 15. They just don’t have the time to babysit nervous or anxious tourists. And don’t disturb the celebrations by being in the way. This is not the day for “political correctness” or even discussions or debates about it.
Get out of the way at the critical spots during the raising of the ceri at Piazza Grande (called alzata, between 11:00 and 12:00) and race itself (18:00 and 20:00). The speed of the ceraioli, given the approximate 250 kg on their shoulders, is tremendous and sometimes they swing or topple over, as it happened with San Giorgio in 2010 and with Sant’Antonio in 2011. Who gets a cero on his/her head has just bad luck and no (= zero) reason or chance to sue anyone. Take into consideration that the Eugubini grow up with this festa and from early ages they know how to move, how to behave and actually nothing serious happened at anytime during the festa since 850 years. Make sure that it stays this way. Get off the streets when the race takes place. During the race, a lot of "helpers" who run in front of the ceri groups, clear the ways. And they are very strict pushing people away who are blocking the route. Have a look at this video, taken during Ceri 2011: the helpers push two people back, who are in the way. This is what I meant above: this is *not* the time to discuss. If it rains, take down the umbrellas when the collective shout ombrelli sounds – or wear raincoats. Shut up during the evening procession, when the saints are being brought back from the basilica to Chiesa dei Muratori. This is in my opinion the holiest time of the festa anyhow, very solemn, the Eugubini (and an adopted one) sing Sant’Ubaldo’s song O lume della fede and this is not the time to chat or giggle. [Some impressions of this evening procession are in this video, starting at 8:15 min. At 9:00 min the three turns in front of the statue of Sant’Ubaldo are shown, followed by bending down in front of him.]
Gubbio’s tourist office does provide a map with the whole course of the race including the critical parts, where the race leads through narrow parts or around edges. I have marked the course (red line) and the critical parts (blue circles) onto a google screenshot (photo 2). The instructions on the official Ceri map say:
• During the race, the ceri don’t stop. Don’t block the path and stay at a safe distance,
• Avoid the narrow passages marked in the map,
• Don’t loose sight of children and don’t bring them into the crowd,
• Dress comfortable and wear comfortable shoes. If it rains, no umbrellas,
• During alzata (raising of the ceri), the atmosphere of the crowd heats up – beware,
• If a cero falls, get out of the way,
• Respect the city and the ambience.
I am fully serious with all the above and aware that it sounds strict. Simply because I fear that unprepared visitors might spread words about the festa which are... well, based on lack of proper preparation. It is a fascinating festa. Don’t spoil it for the locals by being in the way or rude or making silly comments and don’t spoil it for you by being narrow-minded. Come with open eyes and heart and you will enjoy this festa and learn a lot about the Eugubini and their values.
Oh, and one further remark, based on the many questions I got from fellow travellers at Federica’s place: personal belongings are safe, despite the immense crowd. First of all, the Eugubini would never steal anything (I know this) and I am even sure that once a foreigner tries to steal something, he would be knocked down immediately and arrested.
© Ingrid D., June 2010 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.)
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