Like many other Italian villages, also Gualdo Tadino has its ancient traditions. The most important one is undoubtedly the recurring event “Giochi de le Porte”. It originated from the ancient equestrian jousts that frequently took place in the 17th century and had a comeback in the late 70s. The event sees the four city gates competing for the palio: San Donato, San Facondino, San Benedetto and San Martino. On Friday, on the last weekend of September, the games are inaugurated by the Gonfaloniere reading the announcement. In the evening, people attend the exciting exhibition of drummers and flag-wavers. Saturday is dedicated to a majestic procession through the streets of the city, staging scenes of daily life in the Middle Ages. Afterwords the prior of each gate launches a challenge to the rival gates and thus officially opens the competition. On Sunday, the actual competition takes place, but only after some preliminary steps. First of all the weighting of the carts is done, then the starting order of the races is drawn and a last parade takes place. There are four challenges in which the gates will compete to win the Palio. The first round consists of a race through the streets of the city with carts pulled by a donkey. The second race is the shooting with slingshots to hit ceramic dishes. The third competition is the archery contest. The fourth and most impressive competition is the donkey race: jockeys bareback ride donkeys. The gate that achieved the highest score in the four different challenges wins the palio. The exchange of handkerchiefs takes place on Sunday at midnight, it symbolizes peace among the Gates and the end of the games.
The winners have the honor of burning the Bastola. Poets, artists, writers and historians painted the Bastola as a witch, a lost soul, an evil nocturnal being. Even today there’s still mistery around this figure, the only certainty is that she is considered the enemy of the city for having set Gualdo on fire in the 13th century.
The story of the Bastola is actually much more complex and fascinating. Born without a father, she followed in the footsteps of her mother, who died in a fire. Her original name was “Bartola”, but it was distorted in “Bastola” by a drunkard. A noble whose wife was sick asked for her help. The attempts at healing, however, were not successful. A second fire struck the city and the Bastola was indicated as scapegoat. Later, Federico II found himself in Gualdo and decided to help the local population to rebuild the city, in particular Flea fortress.
One of our beers is named after Bastola. It is an Imperial Red Ale, with an intense, dry, slightly bitter taste and a caramel and hazelnut aftertaste. The foam is compact, creamy and adherent. Unfiltered, unpasteurized, high fermentation and refermented in the bottle. Federico II has two dedicated beers. The first one has an intense yellow color and is produced with 100% barley malt. It has a fresh, basically bitter taste with a herbaceous aftertaste. Federico II Extra is a double malt and has a coppery color.
This year, in compliance with the anti-covid rules, the games will not be disputed. The best way to honor the tradition is to spend a nice evening with good friends, good food, and making a toast with Bastola, Federico II, Federico II Extra to Gualdo Tadino, to its innate elegance, its traditions and its people.
Next year’s games will be even better.