A Medieval Festival in Bevagna

  June is a magical month at Genius Loci:  we are surrounded by endless fields of stately, majestic sunflowers, the days are long with balmy evenings…and just down the road, Bevagna is alive and abuzz with one of Italy’s most highly acclaimed and marvelous festivals.  Il Mercato delle Gaite runs for 10 days in the second half of June.

smiling sunflowers welcoming us back

This period is a wonderful time to visit Umbria.  Book your stay today at Genius Loci and let us help you with the information you need to get the most enjoyment out of this magnificent festival.

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adorable youngsters - look at those shoes!

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the blacksmith

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silk thread

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wool dyeing with all natural herbs

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a woman in the procession

             a huge thank you to guest/friend Julie Thomas for her amazing photos above

Italy is famous for its festivals.  They were originally organized in small towns, by the local people who all participated in one way or another to keep expenses to a minimum, devolving the profit either to a charity or to the needs of their own town or village.

Over the years, many of these once local festivals began to outsource the work to national cooperatives that send in a team.  As you can imagine, this utterly changes the spirit and atmosphere of the festivals.  Maurizio and I have been to some of these outsourced festivals and much to our dismay, they were entirely different, less coherent and much less enjoyable:  the towns had “sold their souls”.

Luckily Bevagna continues true to itself.  Year after year it is awarded its due recognition as one of the Top 10 Festivals in Italy.  It meets and exceeds the basic criteria for this award – that an historic committee approve the authenticity, that the medieval culinary traditions be strictly respected…and above all, that a high percentage of local residents be involved in myriad ways.  Bevagna has one of the highest percentages, in fact, of local participation of all the top-rated festivals.

Its soul is intact, as are all those of the magnificent Umbrian towns.  The towns are just as well-known for what they have not become as for what they are.  

Each June, the locals don medieval garb as they go about the Festival activities.   Each quarter - gaita – creates a tavern where dishes are prepared exclusively from documented medieval recipes.  The four gaite compete intensely in horse races, archery, processions, medieval street music, banquets, workshops and tavern menus.  

Artisan workshops are recreated, welcoming visitors with demonstrations and explanations.  While all the workshops are interesting and worth visiting, we find the paper-making, candle-making from local beeswax, cloth dyeing from local herbs,  silk weaving process (complete from raising the silk worms to spinning the thread),  blacksmith, basket weaving and thatching using local river reeds truly remarkable. 

These finished products are exhibited and sold on “market days” .

Bevagna delle Gaite

 one of the typical street markets

Candle makers

 the pure beeswax candle-making workshop

A weaver working on an antique loom

 the silk weaving on antique looms workshop

Street vendors

 the ceramic market

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 flat bread and local acorn-fed pork sausages

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evening processions and pageantry in the town square

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beautiful Bevagna – one of the rare flat Umbrian towns

Won’t you join us in June for this amazing Medieval Gaite Festival in Bevagna?

-Mary