The Cavalcata of Assunta is the oldest historical re-enactment in Italy. It takes place every year in the city of Fermo, in the Marche region, and it celebrates the city’s devotion to its patron saint Maria Vergine Assunta.
This event has a long history; it was first mentioned in a manuscript dated back to 1182, which explains the importance of holding a horse race in Fermo in honour of its patron saint.

Historically, there used to be a parade on the 14th of August and a horse race on the 15th. However, nowadays the people of Fermo celebrate with a variety of events starting on the 26th of July, ending with the traditional horse race on the 15th of August. This event draws many tourists to the city, both Italians and foreigners, and it is a must see if you are in the Marche region in July or August.

If you would like to know more about the history of the Cavalcata of Assunta, visit http://cavalcatadellassunta.it/en/ . The site is available in both Italian and English.

WHAT TAKES PLACE DURING THE CAVALCATA OF ASSUNTA?

The festival historically used to take place only on the 14th and 15th of August. A procession, called the Cavalcata of Assunta, took place on the night of the 14th, the day before the main festival. People used to parade on horseback, illuminated only by candles and torches; for this reason the parade was also called “Luminaria”.

Cavalcata of Assunta
Cavalcata of the Assunta

This procession started from the Church of Santa Lucia and it ended in the cathedral where the participants offered traditional gifts to their patron saint. This parade used to be magnificent! Its participants wore their finest clothes, passed through cheering crowds and were preceded by drums and by the ringing of all the town’s bells. The Cavalcata of Assunta was important because it was a display of the wealth and power of the ancient State of Fermo.

WHEN TAKES PLACE THE CAVALCATA OF ASSUNTA?

On morning of the 15th of August, a horse race, called “Corso del Palio” or “Corso dei Bàrberi” was held. The winner received a fine drape made from the most expensive fabrics and by the best craftsmen of the city. After the race, a mass was held at the cathedral and in the afternoon the people celebrated with medieval games, called the “hastidilium” (the game of the ring) and “ludus tauri” (the game of the bull).

Cavalcata of the Assunta Tug of war
Cavalcata of the Assunta Tug of war

These events still take place in the historical re-enactment. The Cavalcata of Assunta is still breath-taking. People parade on horseback wearing 15th century costumes in the medieval city of Fermo, amidst its ancient churches and castles and city walls. It is very authentic as it still takes place at night, by candlelight, and people still bring gifts for their patron saint in the cathedral. This procession has both religious and historical importance and it is magnificent to see. On the 15th of August another historical parade is held and then the traditional horse race takes place.

OTHER EVENTS IN FERMO, MARCHE

Additionally, many other events take place in Fermo in July and August to celebrate the festival. Fermo prides itself on its long history and in this period it holds drumming shows, medieval archery, historical parades and medieval ceremonies.

This is now the 837th year of the Cavalcata of Assunta but its medieval spirit is still preserved by the people of Fermo. If you are ever in the Marche region in August, you should definitely stop by to see this beautiful and ancient event and to take part in authentic Italian traditions and history.

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