The Asti Palio 

3th Sunday in september

The Asti Palio is reputed to be the oldest in Italy, dating back to 1275, when Astigian jockeys raced through and over the vineyards surrounding Alba. At the heart of the programme are the bareback horse races around the triangular track in the main piazza of Asti. The pageantry that surrounds the event includes over 1,200 inhabitants in full medieval costume representing each of the 21 ‘comune’ of Asti and the surrounding area. These 21 commune parade through the streets to the beat of hundreds of drums and one of the highlights is the flag waving and throwing displays, where huge banners are tossed high in the air in a fantastic display of colour and noise. These ceremonies both open and close the Palio. For many more details please see the Asti Palio website

Corsa delle Botti

4th Sunday in May

This barrel racing competition in Nizza Monferrato only dates back to 1978 and represents the race between the various wine producers, hurrying to deliver to their customers - the families of the region (a bit like the race to deliver Beaujolias Nouveau each year). The race itself is between the various 'houses' (wine producers) and, after a series of heats, leads to a grand final in the afternoon. During the day, visitors can enjoy ‘monferratointavola’, where each of the local towns and villages offer regional food specialities, together with ample opportunity to taste the Monferrato wines. The barrel racing takes place in the main square, while families enjoy the huge market and the funfair in the main square.

The Palio degli Asini at Alba

1st Sunday in October

The Palio of Asini – Donkeys – deliberately mocks the Asti Palio and, since 1932, has developed its own status in the region. In 1275, the people of Asti raced for the Asti Palio under the walls and through the vineyards of Alba and, allegedly, wreaked havoc to the area. Thereafter the Asti Palio was run in the city of Asti and the Albese jockeys participated and registered many victories until they were no longer invited to take part. This led to the foundation of the alternative Palio - to play down and diminish the importance of the defeat in 1275. As in Asti there is a major historic parade, with over 500 participants in full medieval costume supporting an event renowned for its humour and casual attitude.

The Siege of Canelli

3rd weekend in June

This celebration re-enacts the siege of Canelli in 1613. The small local garrison was supported by the local citizens, many of whom lost their lives, in successfully defending the city. As the official programme notes:“ It is a celebration without embellishment. For two days more than 1,000 Canellesi wearing the traditional costumes of the period and always acting as if they were actually taking part in the most crucial events of a siege, re-create the atmosphere and the reality of a town under siege. The visitor becomes both protagonist and witness of the events, actor and spectator mingling with the officers and soldiers or with the farmers and their animals, sitting in inns and taverns often haunted by evil-doers and beggars…” For us, this is the best festival we have ever been to, where the battles are just a part of the occasion, and the sights, sounds and general atmosphere are very special.

The Festival Delle Sagre

2nd Saturday and Sunday of September

In most years, the main square at Asti is over-flowing with over 250,000 visitors who manage to consume over 800,000 portions of food at this feast/festival. The square at Asti is full of small stalls and catering facilities, where each region promotes its own speciality food and visitors either eat on the move or can compete for one of the available chairs and tables. Tractors pull trailers that are decorated to show a typical local scene through the streets. This could be livestock grazing, a small house built on the back of the trailer, or the production of wine. This is an ideal opportunity to check out a wide variety of local dishes without having to travel throughout the region.

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