Festa Monini: colors, sounds and tastes of Umbria

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In Bevagna, history unravels as you walk the streets

Umbria and its surroundings
07 Giugno 2013

In Bevagna, history unravels as you walk the streets




The Medieval knowledge and taste at the Bevagna Mercato delle Gaite (local District Market) in an engaging and now expert mise-en-scène that lasts for 10 days, and is prepared with care and passion. Starring: arts and crafts that brought the Umbrian village fortune, but more importantly the village's inhabitants.

Preceded by various annual events, from the 20 to 30 June 2013, the Mercato delle Gaite in Bevagna (PG) returns. For over twenty years, its inhabitants have been involved - and, actually participate with growing passion - in the event that offers the most faithful and convincing historical reconstruction possible of medieval life in the ancient village. In spite of many clichés that describe the Middle Ages as a time of obscurantism, it was instead a period of great change, leading to improvements in community life through work, commerce and trade.

Aware that we live in a privileged environment, a natural crossroads of art and ancient knowledge, monuments and beautiful spaces, in 1989 the population of Bevagna, decided to treat themselves and visitors to a festival - the Mercato delle Gaite, in fact - to share with others their tradition of doing which laid the foundation for the city's fortune.
In time, the re-enactment has established itself and has been enriched with content, due to the work of many volunteers, artisans and some leaders (the "consuls" of ancient memory), thus today it is to be considered one of the most important and realistic medieval re-enactments in Europe. Thus it is no coincidence, that, in 2011 Bevagna was awarded the "Italia Medievale - Medieval Italy prize."

 

Philological enjoyment

The aim of the event is to revive the everyday life of the inhabitants of the village in the period between 1250 and 1350, remaining faithful to the political, administrative, economic and social information derived from a careful analysis of the 15th Century Municipal Statute. From the Statute valuable notes about the methods and techniques of production of local products, operation of furnaces and mills, the organisation of some workshops, the sale of certain goods have been obtained which were governed by precise sanitary regulations, the use of weights and special measures...
All this is repeated to this day, thanks to the group effort by the inhabitants in their interpretation of the four gaite or districts, which today as they did then, divide the city (the term gaita derives from the Lombard watha , or "guard post".
For ten days the districts (gaite) of San Giorgio, San Giovanni, San Pietro and Santa Maria compete, committed to re-interpreting to the best of their ability the roles performed long ago.
Animated by a spirit of healthy competition and a keen sense of belonging, the districts (gaite) participate in the four rounds of the Market , - Crafts, Food and Archery (Archers from Bevagna were legendary) Competitions. A panel of extraordinary experts are called to judge historical relevance and representations and to declare the winning district (gaita), who will receive the palio "wining prize" at the closing event.

 

The events are feverish

Thus for ten days, Bevagna dives into its distant past, in an atmosphere of contagious work: the medieval craft workshops reopen and resume business. Time is turned back and "carta bambagina" (paper made from pulp derived from rags), silk threads are twisted in the "torcitoio" a type of press, "duplero" candles with double flames are again made, "Cortonese" and "Perosino" (coins) are minted and the streets are crowded with Bevanati (the name for the population of Bevagna) that, wearing ancient costumes, eat, work, play and dance just as their ancestors once did.
Perhaps the most significant moment is the market which starts at the main square and moves forward along the streets of the four districts (gaite). The stands respect traditions. Not extravagant, they are often very accurate in their historical representation as well as in the search for particular ideas that differentiate and give identity to each of the four districts. The displays are varied and are expressed through strictly local products, and crafts. The market blazes with a multitude of colours, ideas and goods. And then there are the stalls, the noise of the shops where visitors can find fabrics, leather items, basketry, cordage, paper, iron, copper as well as cheese, fish, bread and freshly baked focacce...
The taverns and inns, offer unusual and forgotten flavours: authentic medieval recipes are served, derived strictly from ancient cookbooks and are free from any ingredient that might "contaminate" their historical value.

Concentration on fine details and history which results in a great deal of attention towards the educated and qualified tourist. Thus, Bevagna is able to combine the precision of reconstruction with the pleasantness of welcoming tourists, philological research with the event and culture.

 

The territory

BEVAGNA is located on the edge of the vast Umbrian valley, at the furthest reaches of the Monti Martani, a cultivated a fertile plain, fed by the Clitunno. Founded on the ancient Via Flaminia, it was the first town in Umbria (and later flourishing Roman town of Mevania) ascribed to Aemilia. Mevania held a central position on the Roman roads which, together with flourishing trade by means of its inland waterways, determined its development until the third century A.D. In 774 A.D. it became part of the Papal States, and after 1000 A.D. it became a free Municipality held by the Consuls. It appearance now is definitely the result of its medieval development.

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