The Feste Vigiliane celebrations turn on the Trentino summer
Plenty of laughter over polenta
If you missed them this year, don’t worry. You can start sticking a pin in your calendar for next year!
On 26 June, Trento celebrates its patron saint, San Vigilius. The city Cathedral is dedicated to him and the SAT has created a trail in his name, called San Vili. Since 1984, however, the days of celebration have multiplied, so the second half of June literally drives the city crazy with days and weekends packed with events, shows, magical nights, medieval costumes and traditions that we wholeheartedly invite you to come to know.
Welcome to the Feste Vigiliane!
Once upon a time, leisure times were rare episodes that marked the most important moments of a community: the harvest, the grape harvest, the carnival, the New Year and weddings. Rites of passage, purification or rebirth. Moments in which the whole community, regardless of wealth or origin, gathered to celebrate collective cults, a prelude to a new cycle that was about to begin. 26 June, the feast of the patron saint, was one of those events, where, from the city and the valleys, everyone reached the Cathedral to celebrate the protector of the earth and sky of Trento.
The festivities to lead to the long-awaited 26 June took place for the first time on 20 June 1984. These celebrations have grown over the years, becoming one of those moments that the locals await with enthusiasm because they celebrate, remember, eat, dress up and recall moments of the past. But above, they laugh.
You don’t think so? Come and see!
The festivities involve the twin cities of Trento - Prague, San Sebastián, Kempten, Berlin - and end with crackling fireworks over river Adige. Yes, because the fireworks in Trento have a very long tradition. And, as tradition has it, they were much loved by San Vigilio.
The theme changes every 365 days, the musical or entertainment shows and the “white night” (evenings packed with events) date can also change, but the same year after year, apart from the fires and the solemn mass in the Duomo, are 5 events you cannot miss.
Let’s see them together!
Events you cannot miss!
The historical procession
The parade in Renaissance costumes, which sees the participation of the characters like the city nobles, the raftsmen of Palio dell’Oca, the Ciusi and the Gobj and then knights, peasants, commoners and falconers, starts from Buonconsiglio Castle to stop in Piazza Duomo for the traditional flag raising, and end on Piazza Fiera for the oath of the Raftsmen.
The Court of Penance
A highly anticipated appointment in which every year a different judge, flanked by a defence lawyer and a prosecutor, literally washes in the square the dirty clothes of those public figures who, over the year, have made too many blunders and, with satire, jokes, gossip, a little embarrassment and lots of healthy fun, will avoid paying by the Tonca, literally, immersion in the river Adige
The re-enactment of an ancient punishment. Between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries, blasphemers were imprisoned in a cage and then lowered from the Green Tower of the Buonconsiglio Castle into the waters of the river Adige, which, before the urban transformation ordered by Bishop Clesio, still passed through there. Needless to say, most of the time, the unfortunate died by drowning.
The Tonca delle Feste includes the immersion into the Adige from the San Lorenzo bridge of a stunt double of the person condemned by the Court of Penance, as the Judge reads the sentence.
The representatives of the districts and suburbs of Trento and of the twin cities compete in skill tests on the river Adige aboard a raft, one for each crew. The tests keep the public in suspense in the hope that the raft and the raftsmen do not lose their balance too often. The meaning of this re-enactment is the memory of a time when the river was a fundamental way of communication and transport of goods.
The challenge of the Ciusi and the Gobj
The battle that inflames the Piazza Fiera arena. It re-enacts an event that really happened in the sixth century. Namely, the strenuous defence of Trento by its inhabitants against the inhabitants of Feltre, who, invited to the capital by King Theodoric to collaborate in the construction of the city walls, allegedly sacked the granaries during a terrible famine. A heated battle ensued, which ended with the victory of the Trento inhabitants, who managed to drive out their enemies from Feltre. The Ciusj from Feltre in yellow-red costumes helped by their women, called “strozzere”, who protected the polenta, must try to break through the circle of the Gobj from Trento, in grey-black costumes.
Who will win this year?