history and folklore in Mugello
Any special events taking place in a medieval walled town, in a
castle, in an old church are unmissable opportunities for visitors
to learn about this historic territory, its roots and traditions.
Particularly fascinating are the many historic pageants and folk
events scheduled throughout the year in every corner of Mugello
and the Sieve Valley.
Train of the Befana
San Piero a Sieve, January 6th
According to Italian tradition, Befana is a white witch dispensing sweets (to good children) and coal lumps (to wicked children) on January 6th. For a few years now, the children of Mugello have been expecting their much-awaited Befana to arrive by a specially scheduled steam train departing from Florence and reaching San Piero a Sieve with intermediate stops at Firenze Campo di Marte and Borgo San Lorenzo. Here the train passengers and the chirpy old lady are met with a festive welcome of music, games and bagfuls of candies.
Borgo San Lorenzo (old town centre), last Carnival Thursday
Berlingaccio is the last Thursday before Lent (sometimes called
Shrove Thursday), and Borgo San Lorenzo celebrates this Carnival
festivity in lush Venetian style with some 300 elaborately masked
mystery characters animating with music and shows the countless
parties going on in the squares and alleys of the old town centre.
Scarperia in bloom
Scarperia (centro storico), 4th Sunday in May
On the last Sunday in May, Scarperia celebrates the old Corpus Christi festivity with flower pictures that from 10 am to 10 pm carpet the streets and squares of the old town centre. The designs, based on a given theme, are carried out by competing teams of locals with large, colourful and astonishingly elaborate petal arrangements.
Tournament of the Fortress and Feast of
San Piero a Sieve, one weekend in late May
The 'Regolo' is a legendary snake that should supposedly be living
in the surroundings of the St Martin's fortress at San Piero, and
its quest is one of the five trials in which the four town neighbourhoods
compete to win the “Palio della Fortezza” (Fortress
Trophy). The games take place between piazza Colonna and the Fortres
and are preceded by a historic pageant.
Ages at the Ubaldini court
Palazzuolo Sul Senio (old town centre), 3rd and 4th weekends
The medieval festival organized by the Gruppo Storico Oste Ghibellina
attracts thousands of visitors to Palazzuolo every summer. The event
is so successful because every year there is a different theme,
and everyone can take part and dress up in period costume. On the
last Sunday the programme includes the “Palio della campana”,
the only one in Italy fought with catapult shots, commemorating
the rebellion of the Ubaldini people against the Florentine rule.
Marradi, from the last week of July to August 10th
Float parades, water games, dancing and singing contests, gastronomic
stalls and many other attractions entertain the crowds while the
five Marradi neighbourhoods fight one another to conquer the coveted
Scarperia (old town centre), September 8th
Scarperia was founded by the Florentine Republic on September 7th,
1306, and on September 8th Scarperia has long been celebrating its
birthday on the holy festivity for the Birth of the Virgin Mary:
in fact, “Diotto” stands for “Dì Otto”
or “8th Day”. The festival commemorates the handover
of office from one Vicar (nothing to do with priests, the Vicar
was the deputy governor appointed by the Florentines!) to the next,
with a historic pageant and several contests including a knife throwing
competition whose meaning is best appreciated by reminding one that
Scarperia is one of the world capitals of cutlery manufacturing.
Scarperia (old town centre), 1st Sunday in September
In the week before the Diotto, and especially for the whole day
on the first Sunday in September, Scarperia is transformed in a
Renaissance town: every corner of the town centre hosts tableaux
of 16th Century life with musicians, archers, craftsmen, peasants,
commoners, guards and noblemen in period attire, while the 'Locanda
del Vicariato' (Vicar's Inn) offers period dishes that can only
be paid for with 'Scarperia Florin's, specially minted coins exchanged
by official 'treasurers' at two licensed bank locations.