As the month of Asti approaches, the city undergoes a transformation, with its steeped streets already alive in history. The Asti di Palio is not only about the thrilling race itself, but it also pays tribute to the rich tapestry of Asti’s past. Every moment is a tribute to the inspiring stories of yesteryears, when new meets old and the banner of tradition unites the entire city. The grand parades showcase historical costumes, while the spellbinding performances of the flag-wavers captivate the audience. In addition to the ceremonies and pageantry, the air becomes thick with anticipation as timeless rivalries and the stories of legendary champions are shared and reshared. It’s a moment when the past meets the present, and the Asti di Palio becomes a captivating blend of old and new.
Welcome to Asti di Palio, a celebration that has been making history for centuries. It is not just an event, but also a testament to the enduring spirit of a city that honors its history with joy and pride. Whether you are drawn by the allure of the Palio’s magnetic pull, the enchanting architectural marvels, or the famed wines, prepare to be enchanted.
The Asti Palio is the oldest horse race in Italy. It is a traditional medieval festival. Originally, it was held during the festivities of the client saint San Secondo in May, but since then, it has taken place on the first Sunday of September. This year, the Asti Palio will be held in Piazza Alfieri. The 2019 edition of the Palio was won by the Baldichieri di Comune and Cattedrale Rione.
Every year during the month of September, the towns and villages of the Asti district engage in a thrilling race on horseback, vying for the coveted victory.
Background of Palio di Asti, Equestrian Competition
The event that most awaited in the city of Asti, which brings colors to their municipalities, villages, and districts, is the historic horse race called the Taste of Palaces Asti and the festival of Asti. It takes place in the center of the city of Asti, one week after the Palio (Palio is a festival in Italy that has been happening for almost 1000 years now). The horse race was held in the largest square in Italy, Palio del Campo Piazza, until 1967. Later, it was moved to the streets of the city of Asti, and it has been the symbol of the city. In 1988, the track was moved to Piazza Alfieri.
The History of the Palio di Asti
Each year, numerous onlookers gather at the square prior to the Palio, where a sand track and stands are constructed. The Captain of the Palio and his officials traditionally present the “Palio Estimate” in the preceding months. The streets of Asti are adorned with flags and vibrant colors to mark the territories of the villages and districts in the weeks leading up to the Palio. Here, the flag-wavers showcase their skills accompanied by drums, trumpets, and snare drums, accompanied by the musicians. In the month of May, an exhilarating competition known as the Paliotto takes place, pitting the villages and districts against each other. The Palio race is an event that reverberates throughout the entire year.
Historical Procession of Palio di Asti
In accordance with the regulation, every district, village, and municipality will participate in a procession, showcasing a historical and symbolic theme to compete against each other in the finest parade. On the Sunday of the Historical Horse Race, instead of the historical theme procession, the children from the districts and villages will march wearing attire that represents their own ward. As for the cities in the historic center, on Saturday afternoons, each participant at the Palio arranges propitiatory dinners. Every district and suburban municipality presents itself with a dedicated stand to sell representative items from the district or village, starting from Thursday before the Palio, in Piazza San Secondo, the city’s patron saint. There are numerous events leading up to the horse race in the days preceding the competition.
THE SCHEDULE OF THE PALIO OF ASTI DAY Sunday, 3rd September 2023
Immerse yourself in the medieval atmosphere that surrounds Asti during the highly anticipated period of the year: the Palio week.
As flags wave and trumpets (or “chiarine” as we call them) blare, the Captain and his magistrates majestically ride into the square.
From the stands or central field, those lucky enough to observe the Palio of Asti encounter a sequence of exhilarating moments.
The Palio of Asti truly stands out as a one-of-a-kind event, showcasing its exceptional qualities before, during, and after every thrilling and unforgettable moment. The intense and fleeting experience occurs only a few minutes each time, with each race being followed by three exhilarating heats.
10 AM – Local churches: Ritual of blessing the horse and jockey.
At 11 AM, the performance of Flag-wavers from A.S.T.A. Takes place at Piazza San Secondo.
The procession concludes with Secondo San Piazza departing from Carroccio. The procession is led by flag-wavers A.S.T.A and the group Captain’s. The route includes Alfieri Piazza, Gardini Via, Garibaldi Via, Gobetti Via, Giobert Via, Carducci Via, Caracciolo Via, and Cattedrale Piazza. The historical procession features 1200 participants representing participating municipalities, suburbs, and districts. The kick-off is at Cattedrale Piazza at 2 PM.
The Palio race and the final with nine horses will be awarded at 6 PM. A flag-waver show will take place at 5 PM. The Palio race, featuring horses ridden without saddles, will consist of three heats, starting at 4 PM in Piazza Alfieri.
When? The initial Sunday of September (although activities commence from the preceding Thursday).
Where? The historical center streets and Alfieri Square.
Tickets & Credentials: You can reserve tickets by sending an email to [email protected]. The ticket office will then give instructions on how to buy them.
Asti’s history is truly captivating, with its clever and nimble businessmen and its strategic location in the heart of Liguria, the Po Valley, and the Alpine crossings. The City of Asti is renowned for its vibrant economy. The cityscape exudes a nostalgic charm, characterized by medieval houses, Romanesque churches, and truncated towers. It is in this medieval city that the roots of the Palio can be traced back to.
Palio, the famous horse race in Asti, is an event that captivates tourists and locals alike. The atmosphere is charged with excitement and anticipation, as paraders donning colorful costumes bless the horses before the morning masses on Sunday. The highlight of the day is the children’s parade and the official jockey registrations. The eve of the race is marked by bustling markets and preparatory dinners. The entire day is filled with thrilling rounds of practice, with pulleys, canopies, stands, and tracks adorning the central square. Flags and banners proudly herald the city’s pride. Asti undergoes a complete transformation for this week-long event, as the entire city prepares for the Palio with great anticipation.
The race, known as Palio, has evolved over eight centuries while still maintaining its original allure – a unique bond with the patron saint and a strong sense of identity, along with a passionate and competitive charm. The historic evolution of the city is reflected in Palio, which has been a tradition and festivity in Asti since August 10th, 1275, racing against the backdrop of Alba.
We pay homage to the oldest tradition in Italy, which is to stay true to the painter Palio’s selection and blessings. The spirit of this ritualistic year lasts, but the Palio might be the last day of it all. Each individual stands by their faction in engaging yearly preparations. The participating ladies and lords flaunt the stately costumes, twirling flags with vivid colors, as the proclamation “Palio begins!” Is made by the Captain. The sounds of challengers’ songs and neighing horses line up, creating a folklore-like atmosphere.
The triumph of the Palio, the renowned horse race
The winner of the race, whether it be an international artist or a local artist from the city or village district, will be able to hang their own banner, known as the “Palio,” to symbolize their victory. In addition to the glory and fame, this banner is created every year for the municipality and village district to compete for.