Palio of Ferrara

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The Ferrara Palio is traditionally run on the last week-end of May in Piazza Ariostea, an event strongly linked to the Este family. In 2024, the Palio will be run on the evening of Sunday 26 May, from 8 p.m. (the races, initially scheduled for Saturday 25 May, were postponed to Sunday due to the unfavourable weather forecast).

Four races to win the four palii are held to experience the excitement of one of the city's most heartfelt events. Between the celebrations and the races, the square is tinged with the colours of the Corte Ducale and the 8 contrade that keep this magnificent tradition alive!

The magic of the ancient Palio di Ferrara is waiting for you in the city of the Renaissance par excellence! To keep up-on-date and get more information visit https://www.paliodiferrara.it/.

The Ferrara Palio

May in Ferrara is synonymous with one word: Palio. And not just any Palio, but one of the oldest in the world. A month during which, strolling through the city, you may come across figurants dressed in richly decorated Renaissance costumes. The flags of the different contrade colour the streets and squares, creating an ambience of absolute fascination.

A unique opportunity to discover the city and its most important historical event! From the historical procession to the competitions of musicians and flag-wavers, to the highlight, the four races in Piazza Ariostea (the putti race, the putte race, the donkey race and the fascinating horse race).

History of Palio

The Ferrara Palio was codified for the first time in 1279, but the tradition probably started in the city about twenty years earlier. The origin of this event seems to date back to 1259, the year of the Battle of Cassano. In this battle the Marchese Azzo VII Novello d'Este defeated the Ghibelline company of Ezzelino da Romano.

Originally, the Palio race was held at two different times of the year: on the first occasion during the celebrations of St George, the city's patron saint, on 23 April; on the other in celebration of Our Lady of the Assumption, on 15 August.

Originally, the Palio, now called Palio Antico, involved several races that were disputed along the ancient riverside of the Po (currently via Ripagrande/via Carlo Mayr). There was a wide variety of competitions - between men, women, horses and donkeys - in which everyone could enter to win the pallium prize. 

The Palio was played uninterruptedly until 1600, after that some races were replaced by parades and slowly the tradition disappeared.

The Palio was finally revived in the 1930s with the intention of giving new luster to the city's traditions: the aesthetic apparatus was fixed according to the frescoes in Palazzo Schifanoia and the races were recovered through a philological study of historical documents. The modern edition of the Palio di Ferrara is run on the last Sunday in May, in memory of the extraordinary Palio raced in 1471 to celebrate the investiture of Borso d'Este as the first Duke of Ferrara. This renewed tradition was quickly established in the city and, after an interruption during the war and post-war period, was resumed uninterruptedly from 1968.

Organized by Ente Palio della città di Ferrara.

Ph. organization website