Narni, Monday, September 24
Sometimes you just get lucky. This weekend was one of those times. When I booked this apartment, I didn’t even really know where Narni was let alone what sort of cultural events it hosted. So, it was a delightful surprise when we discovered that Narni is the scene of L’Anello di San Michele. According to the brochure, this event, held in honor of Saint Michael, is to rediscover the medieval rites and traditions of the autumnal equinox, and, guess what, this weekend was the autumnal equinox! I put on my one linen tunic that looked sort of smock like and felt as if I had planned for the event. My only costume disappointment was that I wanted to buy one of those little crowny-garland sorts of things (you know, woven out raffia and studded with flowers that you put on your head) but none of them were big enough. Since it was that or a full metal helmet, I had to pass on head gear.
The brochure promised, as near as I could ascertain: Merchants peddling medieval arms, clothing, foods; puppet shows telling the story of San Michele to children; historical sword fighting tournaments; historical archery competitions; and a medieval banquet. Well, we passed on the banquet but took in just about everything else. It was fairly spectacular seeing all this medieval stuff come to life on the streets of a medieval town. Where else would one have the opportunity to buy, or commission, more likely, a suit of chain mail? Or sign up for a school that teaches you how to do this type of sword fighting?
The celebration is subtitled “The days of the warriors” and it was an accurate description. The sword fighters fought all decked out in armor and created quite a racket. One poor pooch sat trembling at the end of a leash while its owner watched the preliminary rounds.
The fencing competition was held throughout the town and the groups of archers walked from venue to venue and shot at targets ranging from great round straw things with pictures attached to three dimensional statues of weasels and boars and birds. It was great fun to follow a group from one spot to the next to see what distances and targets would be involved.
Apparently, Narni has a celebration in the spring, as well, different saint and different events but the same general idea. In the spring, however, the main competition involves riders on horseback dashing down a street and trying to lance a small ring dangling from a string. It sounds interesting, we may have to return.