Dear friends, we’re republishing this from last year in case anyone is in central Italy and free tomorrow. This is an incredibly event, not to be missed if you’re in the area!
I wonder if Gubbio’s children realize that their Corsa dei Ceri Piccoli is probably the most unique celebration of la Festa della Repubblica (June 2nd) in all of Italy? In this race the youngest ceraioli (also called ceretti) – like their fathers, uncles, and even grandfathers in some cases on May 15th, and i Mezzani (their teen-aged brothers) in late May – run their smaller ceri up to Mt. Ingino where patron saint Sant’Ubaldo (a 12th-c. Gubbio bishop) is enthroned in a glass case.
Late in the morning on June 2nd, la banda piccola announces the festivities, little drummers pounding out la passione, young puff-cheeked trumpeters blasting the notes of the ceri songs beloved by all Eugubini.
Two young capitani on horseback, swords drawn, lead the three ceri groups. Arms linked, excited young boys in satiny yellow shirts (they’ll carry the piccolo Sant’Ubaldo cero) head the ceretti “families.” Emotional san giorgiari (in royal blue) follow and then eager sant’antoniari (in black).
Martino (third grade) in his royal blue San Giorgio shirt told me he’d awakened at five. “I couldn’t sleep for the excitement.” His father Giorgio, who used to run the San Giorgio cero until he broke a leg, told me that Martino watches his treasured collection of DVD’s all year. Only two themes: i Ceri – and Gubbio’s soccer team.
Federico, Matteo and Marco – all three in sant’ubaldaro canary yellow shirts – were sipping fruit juices in a café as they described the emotions. Federico: “Grande. I’m just worried that our Cero might fall.”
Another san giorgiaro in royal blue, Giorgio, hugged a younger boy also in blue, telling me, “I’m running for the third year and my cousin Emanuele will run when he’s a bit bigger.” Little Emanuele grinned and nodded emphatically.
Alessio in yellow proudly presented me to his friend, Juan, from Columbia, hugging him: “I’ve run for three years and now Juan is a sant’ubaldaro too!”
All soon dashed off to join their friends in the parade, arms around each other as the stream of bright yellow, royal blue and black-shirted young boys headed towards Palazzo dei Consoli, the 14th century city hall, for the race start. Their sisters, little and big brothers, grandparents, mothers – and fathers – joined the flow.
The families are there to witness the l’alzatella (the little raising up) of the ceri. The lifting of the full-sized Ceri on May 15th is dubbed l’alzata and is most emotional moment of any Corsa dei Ceri. Having seen the Corsa dei Ceri Piccoli however, I wonder if the greatest emotion for a Ceraiolo is to heft up the Cero on May 15th, or to see his six-year old son lift his own piccolo cero on June 2nd?
– Many thanks to Photostudio Gubbio for the final four photos!!