- Date: August 18, 2017
- Time: 6:45PM & 7:55PM
- Category: Culture
- Stage: Field
- Website: www.borgodurbecco.it
THE “PALIO DEL NIBALLO” of Faenza is one of the most important events in Italy. It originates from two ancient local traditions: the demonstration of skill of its knights and the time-honoured flag game. The Palio probably originated during the Middle Ages, but only during the Renaissance, under the “Signoria” (rulers) of the house of Manfredi were these traditions restored, thus assuming great importance and adding to the vitality of the life of the city. The ancient statutes of 1414 record that in Faenza three Palios where held every year in honour of the patron Saints Assunta(Agoust 15th), S. Nevolone (Juiy 27th), and S. Peter (June 29th). The present “Palio del Niballo” originated from the last one held in 1959. Faentine history Is rich in episodes demonstrating the skill of its citizen knights: in 1167 Federico I Barbarossa showed admiration for them in the tournament held in his honour; in 1471, on the occasion of the wedding of Carlo 11 Manfredi, the Lord of the city, and Costanza Varani the celebrations and tournaments lasted three consecutive days; around the middle of 1600, the nobles of the town used to challenge each other on horseback with lances on a wooden statue called Niballo outside the city’s walls.
The flag wavers have demonstrated their skill in many Italian and foreign cities. The group, composed of about thirty elements, appears in Renaissance costumes carrying flags, drums, and trumpets. These representative figures have performed in squares, athletic fields, theatres, and gymnasiums on the occasion of important historical and cultural events; they have always been appreciated not only for their technical skill, but also for their dedication and seriousness.
OUR DESCRIPTION would not be complete if we did not mention the drummers and the trumpeters, the musicians group. Its role within the flag-wavers team is not only to serve as a background, but to truly participate. The rythmic rolling of drums, whether slow, fast or hammering is an indispensable complement to the singles and couples specialities. During the exhibition of teams, the trumpets accompany the drums underlining the most spectacular moments of the exhibition, which in turn creates suggestive effects hard to resist The many awards won in Italian and foreign competitions in the various specialities of the flag game Is the clearest indication of the level of technical ability reached by the “Fra Sabba” Flag Wavers Group of the White Rione of Faenza. These characteristics have been appreciated for years inside as well as.
The origin of the name “Niballo” is uncertain. The most probable hypothesis dates back to the corruption of the dialect of Annibale into “Nibal”, meaning the Carthagin prince as the supreme head of the Mori Saracens. The other tradition developed simultaneously: that of the flag. In the ancient military system, flags were a symbol for the soldiers and were used as a means of communication during battles; throwing and waving followed a pre-established code. Faentine chronicles register how during the Middle Ages the first of May was dedicated to the feast of the standards. This date recalled an episode in 1080 when the city was freed from the siege of the Ravennates by a French captain, the count of Vitry, who left two flags decorated with his symbols as a record. During a feast in 1674, in the academies of the nobles, fencing and flag games were a custom.
THE MODERN.DAY REVIVAL on the ancient “Palio del Niballo” recreated the five Rioni: White, Yellow, Black, Red and Green, each providing itself with a stable, its own knights, and a group of flag-wavers. The emotional stimulus which motivates the flag-wavers in each Rione is the possibility of victory during the competitions which take place among the flag-wavers on the third Saturday and the third Sunday of June in the various traditional categories: Singles, Couples, Small and Large Teams. Each Rione may boast various victories, but the “Fra Sabba” Flag Wavers Group of the White Rione occupies a special position. The group, in fact, has been adorned with the title, Italian champion of the ancient flag game.
TECHNICAL SKILL and choreography are indispensable elements in the exhibition of the small team (up to six flag-wavers) and of the large team (a minimum of 8 at 16 flag-wavers); the attractiveness of these exercises arises from the fusion of These two elements. The perfect synchronization and communication among many participants in the various phases, the technical skill during the passages and exchanges of flags are the result of a long and dedicated team practice.
IT IS NOT EASY, in a few words, to define the value attributed to winning the couples Game by the flag-wavers of Faenza; undoubtedly it is the most difficult competition, both for the skill and the preparation required of all the participating couples, as well as for the fascination which this competition has stimulated since 1964, when it started. It is a traditional competition and has the high honour of taking place, one time, the same night that the knights of the Rioni swear fealty to their colours and to the laws of chivalry. It is not easy to create a couple capable of competing. It takes years of patient work to achieve perfection obtained through precise training, research of new challenges and synchronization of movements.
THE SPECIALITY OF THE “SINGLES” is undoubtedly the most difficult for the flag-waver; all alone and at the focus of attention, he must prove his technical skill, sustained by psycho-physical training which Is reached after arduous, almost daily practice. What may appear easy and spontaneous Is instead the result of long hours of rehearsal; the characteristics of the competition are such that it requires utmost control of the competitor’s emotions.
ON THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF JUNE, in honour of the Patron S. Peter, the knights of the five Rioni after having crossed the town followed by a Long parade of figures in Renaissance costume, challenge each other at the “Piazza D’Armi” in attempt to win the Palio and carry it back to their headquarters. From some year one is proposed in advance payment of two weeks disputed called similar challenge bigorda from the young knights. Eight times, the same number of times he must joust, the knight rides for a few interminable seconds, and the heart of every fan stops, then explodes when his or her chosen knight hits the target first. This very difficult, exciting challenge is a strenous test for the capacity of both the horse and the knight In order to reach the target before the competitor, the horse must possess great speed and precision. The knight must be skillful in riding and have a perfect aim and a firm hand. The challenge of the Palio of Niballo is the culmination of competitiveness and a commitment which have continued and built up all year Iong. The joy each fan experience when his/her knight wins Is indescribable. The rules of the Palio require that the knights are members in the Rione for which they compete; as a result, there is a great sense of affection and esteem among the members of the team. Each Rione, in order to win the Palio, continually exercises and searches for faster and more sure-footed horses, as well as training more capable riders, thus creating a true school of horsemen. Every city in which a Joust or a “Quintana” takes place has seen Faentine knights as participants, and very often as winners.