18 October 2015

LIFE: The Great Palio di Alba

ALBA, Italy – This is a photo story of the wildest palio in Italy, the Palio di Alba. Palios are very popular in Italy, Sienna has one as does Lucca, La Spezia and many other towns.
 The Palio di Alba
Palio is a rather strange word, it comes from the Latin pallium, which was the name of the cloak the Romans wore. The Romans were really fond of horses and gambling, so it was only natural to put them together. They held races throughout the Roman Empire, and used a cloak to indicate the finishing line. The winner of the race was awarded the cloak.   It didn’t take long before everything associated with the race was called palio. 

All of the palios are pretty much the same – they all have the same rules, except for the one held in Alba, in the province of Piedmont.  The Alba palio was started as a way to thumb its nose at the now famous palio in the neighboring town of Asti. 

So welcome to Alba’s Palio degli Asini, a most competitive race in which donkeys—one for each Alba neighborhoods, or borgi— must complete four laps around Alba’s main piazza, Piazza Medford.

There are eight donkeys and eight bare back riders, and when the officials drop the rope, they are supposed to take off running, just like any other race.

They usually have to think about things before they go, and then decide which dircton they want to go in. 

They don’t always go fast, nor do they always go willingly, and sometimes they don't go at all even with the few thousand people that have traveled at least a mile or more to watch this exciting race yelling out encouragements.

And they are off!

Well, almost. 

 That's a good boy.

Forget this racing business, I'm getting out of here. 

If you think I'm going anywhere with you dressed like that, think again!

Will you two just stop it. 

Now look what you did! 

 If you go any slower I'm going to fall asleep.

 I won!

And so ended the great Palio of Alba, 2015!

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