Donkey Palio of Alba: An annual donkey race revealing history

By | September 13, 2020

Palio in Alba wouldn’t exist without Palio in Asti. In fact, both festivals depict the war between the two regions on August 10, 1275, with the defeat of the Alba people.

Every year, many parts of the world celebrate past victories as a way of honoring the heroic history. On the contrary, the Albas remembers their defeat ironically by celebrating Palio. There was no participation of purebred horses piloted by famous ponies like Asti, but with mundane mules that anyone could get close to. It is a very bizarre ethnic festival, where a large crowd of spectators gathers with high curiosity and gazes on beggars and donkeys attracted by their strange and unpredictable actions. in front of you.

Everyone knows that in contrast to horses, donkeys do not always obey their owners. Even the uncle did not care about the festival. Instead of running at full speed, he just walked away mischievously, sometimes even pausing to look sideways. Occasionally the uncle also decides to mysteriously enter the competition. But often donkeys do not care about the screams of the audience and the push of the racer who has been languishing after the donkeys.

Each donkey was marked with identification numbers and names of the city’s characters. But when people call out their names to insult and ridicule, no one feels offended, or at least they try not to reveal it. The contest takes place on ten streets dividing the city, but the donkeys rarely get to the right destination!

The winner received the Palio Prize. The runner-up received a plate of precious mushrooms. The third person to receive the prize were the best wines in the region. It is barolo, barbaresco or nebbiolo, a ruby ​​red wine. After being left in storage for a while, it will have a deep orange-red color, an acrid taste and a characteristic odor of rose and wilted violets. The 4th person received a cake. The loser, like Palio of Asti, had to eat a salted fish in front of everyone!

Following the race was the procession of about 500 figures in medieval costumes, representing characters from many walks of life: nobles, craftsmen and peasants. Observing the parades on the street, the people of Alba can re-enact in their imagination the old-time atmosphere with folk festivals as an interesting coexistence between tradition and modernity.