Otto Cento is back!

All small Italian towns have festivals – in the summer and fall primarily. Covid was very hard for everyone because all of these festivals have been canceled for two years. This year however it is Katie bar the door…the festivals are back!

Umbertide has it’s big four day festival in August or September each year. It is the celebration of the creation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861 by the House of Savoy and later, integrating the Veneto and the Papal states in 1871. It was called the Risorgimento. Guiseppe Garibaldi was an Italian patriot and soldier of the Risorgimento. The history is very long and complicated and I am not trying to tell it all here, but basically our Otto Cento festival, which means 1800s, it a distillation of the events over many years in the nineteenth century into our four day festival. In the south the Briganti, or brigands in English, in the absence of police, became a force. They fought against the House of Savoy, which they saw as elite. Things were very different in the Mezzogiorno, or south if Italy, as they still are today, where the Briganti originated. It was very poor and the people with money ruled harshly.

Anyway, our four day festival has events centered around all of the different parts of the creation of the kingdom of Italy. We have our own band of Briganti who come to the fore on the Saturday before the end on Sunday when Garibaldi vanquishes them.

The festival itself has entertainment in keeping with the 1800s. Calliopes, stilt walkers, concerts, dancing. Many citizens dress in costumes from the 1800s. There are 15 or so pop-up restaurants all over town. Archery contests. We have a cannon in the Piazza which they seem to shoot off at random times. There are horses and pitched battles from our city walls.

For the last few days evidence of the preparations are everywhere. You can really feel the excitement in the air. I don’t remember it being quite this exciting in the years pre-Covid. I guess not having it made the citizens realize what it means to this town.

Everyone is working to get ready
At the former gates into town they hang curtains.
Italian flags are everywhere! La Rocca in the background
La Rocca
House of Pleasure. Where the Ladies of the Night hang out.
One of the temporary restaurants
Another pop-up restaurant
Laundry…19th century style 🙂

In typical Italian fashion I have not yet found a schedule of events published on line or anywhere else. You’ll be seeing a few more posts about the festa after it gets started. 🇮🇹

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