One hour north-east of Perugia, the town of Gubbio comes alive for the centuries-old celebration and race - Corsa dei Ceri.
If upon attending Corsa dei Ceri you were hoping to see a Usain Bolt or Mo Farah-esque type race in the town of Gubbio, you're better off heading for a race track. This rather unusual and traditional event is apparently known as Italy's 'candle race' where a candle (ceri) is actually a four metre long pillar weighing 400kg. Not exactly what you'd expect if you're asked to race while carrying a so called candle.
Dating back to the 12th century, Corsa dei Ceri is held every May 15th in honour of the patron saint, St Ubaldo. Before the race begins, the main square is jam-packed with three teams and their supporters, each dressed in the colours of one of the following saints: St Ubaldo (yellow), San Giorgio (blue) and St Anthony (black).
When the race commences, the three teams each carry a huge wooden pillar incorporating a statue of one of the rival saints to the Basilica of St Ubaldo up the physically demanding slopes of Monte Ingino. Along the way, many tourists and supporters run alongside the teams cheering them on to the finish.
As the race doesn't begin until the early evening, the hours leading up to the main event are a celebratory affair with rituals, processions and blessings taking place from noon. Everyone is out and about for the celebrations and it's a great time to be in Gubbio if you're a visiting tourist. Come dressed in your chosen colours and you'll fit right in with the locals.
As far as the competition goes, the team of St Ubaldo tend to be the Usain Bolt of Corsa dei Ceri. By that we mean St Ubaldo always wins (it is his day after all).
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