Giochi delle Porte 24 Settembre 2017, Gualdo Tadino

On the last week of September, Gualdo Tadino becomes the stage for the Giochi de le Porte. This event certainly originated from the ancient equestrian jousts that frequently took place in medieval Umbria to celebrate the patron saints, and Gualdo Tadino commemorates the ancient traditional celebrations for Saint Michael the Archangel, patron of the town. During the days of this typical palio, the narrow streets and squares of the town are decked with the colourful banners of the four city gates: Porta San Donato, a yellow tower on a white background; Porta San Martino, a yellow tower on a red background; Porta San Facondino, a yellow tower on a green background; and Porta San Benedetto, a yellow tower on a blue background. The current event, which sees the four city gates competing for the palio, is reborn through the efforts of the “Pro Tadino”, an association that in 1978 organised the current Giochi de le Porte format. On Friday, the first day of the Palio, a Gonfaloniere reads the announcement and thus officially opens the competitions. In the evening, people attend the exciting exhibition of drummers of the four city gates and the flag-wavers team of Gualdo Tadino. Saturday is the day dedicated to the launch of the contest between the four gates, where a majestic procession of about 1,200 characters in 15th century costumes parades through the streets of the city, staging scenes of daily life in the Middle Ages and medieval allegories. From here, the four processions converge on the Piazza Grande, where the prior of each gate launches a challenge to the rival gates. On Sunday, the actual competition takes place; there are four challenges in which the gates will compete to win the Palio.
The first round consists of a race along a 400 m path through the streets of the city, where four carts conducted by two persons and pulled by a donkey compete to cross the finish line. The second race is the shooting with slingshots: the slinger must hit 5 five ceramic dishes with marbles at a distance of 20 m; the maximum duration of the race is five minutes. The third competition is the archery contest, where archers have to shoot five arrows on 60 cm diameter targets. The fourth and most impressive competition is the donkey race: jockeys bareback ride donkeys, and the race is won by the first donkey that crosses the finish line, even without its jockey; the maximum time to cover the route is 10 minutes. The gate that achieved the highest score in the four different challenges wins the coveted palio.