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Palio of Saint Anselm

For some time now in Bomarzo visitors on April 23-24-25 have been continuously increasing because they are attracted by the “Palio” that is run among the five districts into which the town is divided. The districts are: Dentro, the oldest, Borgo, Poggio, Croci and Madonna del Piano.

The Palio Race was recently restored but from ancient sources we know that this was run as early as the 1600s. Indeed, at that time there were two palii, one on April 24 and the other on April 25, days on which we celebrate Bomarzo’s patron saint, Bishop Anselm, who lived through the dark ages of the Gothic invasions and whose intervention repeatedly saved “his” people from barbarian danger.

From ancient books we know that the palii were paid in baiocchi and that a notable of the city was specially appointed to organize this event. During the passage of centuries, punctually, palii were run, until they were reduced to mere horse races. But the love for traditions and for these noble beasts that, always, have been in the souls of the people of Bomarz, has meant that on April 25 the dispute is renewed, which involves, for the winning district the awarding of the banner known as the “Palio,” painted each year by a talented artist and which will then, jealously guarded in the church of the district: S. Anselmo for Dentro, Misericordia for Borgo, Madonna delle Grazie for Poggio, Cristo Risorto for Croci, and Madonna del Piano for the contrada of the same name.

The Afternoon of April 25 opens with a parade in 16th-century costumes, accompanied by the local Band, coming out of Orsini Castle. crosses the whole country. Along the route, the parade, which evokes the characters of the novel “Bomarzo” by writer Manuel Muica Lainez is enriched with new figures: boys and girls in local costumes carry the famous “Biscotto di S. Anselmo” which, is offered and distributed to those present, the flag-wavers, the Priors of the Rioni with their banners, the jockeys on horseback, the Capitano del Popolo, the figurants of the historical groups from the neighboring towns and finally the triumphant chariot, pulled by a pair of white oxen that carries the precious “Palio” in triumph.

St. Anselm’s Biscuit

The Biscuit of Bomarzo was formerly called the “Bread of St. Anselm.” It was sweet bread that Anselm, then Bishop of the city distributed to poor people and pilgrims on their way to Rome. The tradition is still perpetuated today and looks far ahead, alive as a sign of celebration in honor of the patron saint. The elaboration procedure is long and painstaking: on April 24 and 25 of each year, the housewives of Bomarza are busy with a thousand preparations, first and foremost the “search for the yeast,” which must be strictly natural, this being the secret to the success of the Biscotto.