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.

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Il Palio dei Micci – The Donkey Race

Il Palio dei Micci is a famous festival near the beach in Tuscany, near Forte dei Marmi & Viareggio Italia.  It’s an annual Medieval Festival that incorporates all of the different neighborhoods, le contrade, to compete against one another.

One of my very good friends is in charge of her team’s very elaborate & costly costumes that they annually recreate.   Last year she won first place for costume design!  Years ago she walked in the Parade as the Queen… Her husband once as the King…  as her children also participate in the event.  It involves almost every member of the Versilia Italia Community.

The neighborhoods take this event very seriously, with everyone donating their time and money to be the best Contrada!  Members of the community start to prepare for the following year almost immediately after the event is over.   They have sagras throughout the year to raise money for the elaborate costumes and the unique parade platforms.  I heard that they even inject the donkey with a shot of cocaine before the race starts to make their donkey go the fastest.  IDK, never seen that before. It’s a year of hard work for one day competing to be the best!

I have been to the event two years in a row & have never seen the Palio or the Parade, la Sfilata.  In the event of rain, the event is postponed to the following weekend.  It has rained EVERY time I have driven to the coast to attend.  Today we are driving to Forte Dei Marmi to attend the Palio tomorrow and there is a 40% chance of rain.  Please Mother Nature, smettere di piovere! Please don’t rain tomorrow!

Top 5 tips to Survive Public Restrooms in Italy

Traveling in Italy is one of the most amazing experiences in life, BUT make your trip better with these travel tips beforehand:
1-   Bathroom Doors in Italy are almost always shut, often with a rickety door latch.  First try by pulling or pushing really hard on the door handle.  If you think its locked, Knock loudly on the door.  If you hear, “occupato!” then someone is in there. I can’t tell you how many times I have waited outside of an empty bathroom only to realize the door handle was stuck.
2-   Door Signs on Bathrooms in Italy
Multi-Sex Bathroom – Bagno or Toilette or WC (Water Closet) or Gabinetto
Men’s bathroom- Uomo or Signori
Women’s bathroom- Donna or Signore
***Pay attention to the “I” or the “E”!!! I have gone into the men’s bagno more than 100 times by mistake of not reading the sign correctly! ~oops!
3-   Carry a pack of tissues in your pocket going to the bathroom. Usually there will be NO toilet paper… AND almost never have hand soap or paper towels.  They might have a hand dryer from 1970 that will take you an hour to dry your hands.
4-   Pay Per Pee – Keep an EURO or small change in your pocket bc most public restrooms have a bathroom attendant who demands that you leave change for the use of the bagno, especially in rest stops.  You may have to insert money into a machine before entering.  But these are usually the cleanest best bathrooms!
5-   Flushing the toilet in Italy -There is a different mechanism in almost every toilet in Italy.  Sometimes you will push a pedal on the floor, PREMERE or push a plastic round button on the wall, Pull a handle from the ceiling, pull up a little knob on the back of the toilet, or push a large rectangular button made of stainless steel in the wall… be prepared to be confused as to how to rid of your waste.  BEWARE of the “SQUAT” or La Turka!!!
*** Most bathrooms in Italy are not very well marked with directional signs and usually you have to ask, “Dove’ il Bagno?”   Where is the restroom?
9 times out of ten, “Il Bagno” {the bathroom} is “In fondo a destra” {in the back in the right}.  If its not on the right, check  “a sinistra” {the left}.
***  Forget everything you know about public bathroom cleanliness!


Primo di Maggio translates as Labor Day in Italy

Red Velvet Voyage Giro Arrosto in Tuscany

Primo di Maggio in Italy is the 1st of May, translated as Labor Day in Italy when Italians go on picnics or attend festivals or concerts.  For Primo di Maggio I attended a picnic organized by my husbands best friend since he was 12 years old.  The location, an old family-built stone Tuscan Farm House that has since been abandoned, but serves as a party/picnic spot.  Families came out with babies & picnic blankets, in total about 60 people were in attendance.  He hired two men, one an uncle of another childhood friend, to bring out the meat and work the open rotiiserie pit – sausage, chicken, pork, liver, bead and lots of sage salt and olive oil.  Simple Tomato Spaghetti was served per i bimbi, the kids.  The really good wine was hidden in the pantry inside & I got to drink the fancy juice! Mothers brought home-made dolci. Everyone brought money to donate to the food and wine cause.  After lunch everyone played and laughed & continued to get even sillier.  Tuscan slang was tossed back and forth, me understanding about 50% of all of the jokes.  Everyone had a fantastic time and enjoyed la giornata in camagna!

Top 10 Tips on How to Dine in Italy like a True Italiano

How to Dine like a Real Italiano

1   Aperitivo – You can have a full dinner of light appetizers (usually pizza, pasta and bread based) when you pay for one drink in a bar or a lounge.  In any town in Italy ask the locals about the APERITIVO spot.  This is a usually the most swank bar or a lounge that entices people to come for a drink by spreading out an elaborate buffet on the bar starting around 6:30 pm until about 9 pm.  It’s the place where you come to meet your friends and have a cocktail or a glass of wine before heading off to dinner.  Today with Italy’s recession it has turned into the place you meet your friends to drink and eat for free.  The buffet is included for free with the purchase of just 1 drink.  Try a Negroni!

Aperitivo in Italy

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