Il Palio dei Micci or The Donkey Derby

Il Palio dei Micci Donkey Derby

Have you any idea what is Il Palio dei Micci or The Donkey Derby ?  Finally after three years of attempting to witness this Palio dei Micci, or as I call it… the Donkey Derby, I now fully comprehend this Fantastic Event!  I have been every year only to have it rained out due to it presiding  outdoors.  Its an annual competition/festival event that takes place in Querceta, Italy.  This year was the 59th year of participation. Eight different teams, each with their own color symbolism, compete to win in four categories: The Donkey race, the Performance, the Drummers, and the Parade/Fashion Show.

The event starts at 4 pm, after lunch, ‘Dopo Pranzo’ in a soccer stadium with paid ticketed entry.  Its a festival of ‘crosstown rivalry’ that gives a great sense of pride to the members of the community.  There are at least 300 very elaborate costumed members of each team – multiply that by 8 teams & you’ve got 2400 costumed performers.
The event begins as the 1st ‘Contrada’ or neighborhood team rushes onto the field with their props and new costumes to act out a specified theme.  The performance winning Contrada this year’s Theme was “Oltre il Tempo e Lo Spazio… un Lieve Volo,”  a poem from the 1800’s.  The field was full of the most beautiful butterfly & flower costumes all in bright shades of red and yellow where Butterfly goddesses emerged from cocoons and danced in unison.  The performance was astonishing;  I really had no idea that Il Palio incorporated this much effort and creativity.
As the Performance is going on in the center, the Contrada, all dressed in costumes from a century anywhere from 1300-1600 parades around the track circling the field.  The members of the parade are judged harshly on their appearance and composure.  They get points removed if they scratch their nose, have any modern jewelry or tattoos, or even break a smile gazing into the audience.  This years winner of la Sfilata is my favorite Contrada “Cervia”  Congratulations!!!  Un anno di tango lavoro, se vedi quanta avete lavorate!!!
After the Sfilata, the drummers rush the field putting on a grand spectacular procession in the field… a Medieval Drum Circle. And last but not least is Il Palio, the Donkey Race… 8 laps around the track on donkeys, that rumor has it are injected with cocaine to make them go faster.  This year the winner of the Palio is Contrada “Quercia” at the last second the donkey stormed past the front donkey stealing the show!  Watch the first two laps on my YouTube channel:
For more information and to get tickets to attend next year:

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