The Velvet Horserace

    During the last week of June, Leonessa(RI) holds its annual "Velvet Horserace", a historical commemoration of festival that, for eight days, took place five centuries ago for the solemn Fair of St. Peter. The celebration includes the ceremony of dressing the Cavalry and the Tournament of the Equestrians, during which the various "Sexts" challenged each other to classic games, traditional of that period. In addition, there are music, concerts, recitings, taverns with food typical of that era, jugglers, and the city as a whole recalls the atmosphere of the 500's. The "Velvet Horserace", whose name is linked the local activity of weaving, was held from 1464 until 1557 when the celebration was abolished by an order from the governor, don Alessandro Oliva. In fact, after the dispute about the race, many fights arose among its supporters, and brawls resulted in four deaths that year. The prohibition was accompanied by very heavy fines that aided in the disappearance of this yearly tradition. The festival was brought back into vigor by the Community of Leonessa in 1997, connecting it also to the solemn entrance of Margaret of Austria, daughter of the Emperor Charles V and the duchess of Parma, whose father had granted her Leonessa in a feud. A complete set of races are held, the most important of which is the horses, between rappresentatives of the districts, known as "Sexts", in which the city was divided in 1278 during the act of foundation on the part of the king of Naples, Charles d'Angiņ. In memory of this date, a procession takes place, dressed in costumes from the French city of Gonessa, the Angiņ family's place of origin, and coupled with Leonessa. The "Sexts" are: Corno, Croce, Forcamelone, Poggio, Terzone, Torre, from the names of the most important castles from which the city of Leonessa was founded. The "Sexts" of Terzone was the winner of the 2003 edition of " Palio del Velluto". The Palio of 2004 will take place from the 25th to the 29th of June .