This past week in Fermo, I had the rare pleasure of witnessing one of the most anticipated and sought-after events of the year; the Palio dell’Assunta (horse race). This is an ancient festival (considered the oldest Palio in Italy) held annually in the city of Fermo since year 1182. A pageant, showcasing unique traditional regalia from ten districts of the city, precedes the horse race, which attracts visitors and spectators from around the world. Today, this festival typically ends with a food feast and a music concert in the evening – a way to bring everyone together in celebration after the battle that was. I watched with my widened eyes as people of all ages demonstrated extreme pride for their history, as well as traditional and cultural heritage. It was beautiful in every sense imaginable; a rich cultural feast for a foreigner like myself.
Below are a few photographs I captured on the day.
As a young South African who takes pride in who she is, I couldn’t help but take this as an opportunity to reflect on cultural preservation efforts back home, particularly in the Eastern Cape. I thought of the many tribes that exist within the Xhosa lineage and how beautiful it would be to have an annual event that focuses on educating the youth and outsiders about the many pockets and groupings of culture within the wide spectrum of AmaXhosa. Would this not serve continuously – as culture is constantly evolving – as a reminder to the Xhosa people, of where we come from, while providing an anchor and point of reference to promote pride in those who share this heritage? I believe it would. Absolutely. But sadly, no event of this nature, or even magnitude, exists anywhere in South Africa; at least none that I am aware of (I stand corrected). What better way to have the youth involved as well while they learn about their origin and the ways of their forefathers, and most importantly to instil pride in who they are and the things that have shaped their existence. I live for the day that I can take part in such a festival in my own country.