About a week ago I was back in Italy eating a lot of good cheese, drinking the local wine, and visiting distant relatives. My great-great father was born in a small town in northern Umbria called Gubbio. He came to America at age 7 so the relatives I have in Italy are very distant. Yet somehow, they are as welcoming and caring as if they were my own grandparents or aunts and uncles. I alway enjoy visiting, especially in May for the Festa Dei Ceri!
Gubbio is known for a lot of things; the biggest christmas tree in the world that lights up their entire mountain, their beautiful ceramics, delicious white truffles , and for the 'race of the candles' aka Festa Dei Ceri. The festival is in honor their patron Saint, Bishop St. Ubaldo Baldassini. The festival is said to have started after Sant'Ubaldo's death in the 11th century and continues every year rain or shine. This year they had rain. On May 15th at 4am the festival begins with the ringing of the bells to wake up the captains for each of the three saints and doesn't end until very late in the evening with a number of celebrations throughout the town.
The Festa Dei Ceri is a very spiritual and sacred day for the people of Gubbio. You can see how passionate they are about their saint and their city.
The day before, we saw the new captains practice raising the ceri inside the Palazzo dei Consoli where the ceri rest until the following day. On May 15th we made our way back up to Piazza Grande for the raising of the ceri. Being right in the center of all the craziness I could feel the buzz and excitement from everyone around me as it started! It was incredible.