The Gonfalone festival is the biggest festival in Arpino, held in August. The festival is a series of traditional games. Each neigbourhood has its own team with unique flags that hang from the houses and competition is strong. This is the most popular time to visit the town and people come from surrounding areas to watch the games and cheer the teams. The main piazza is the center of the entertainment with its local bars and restaurants, providing the food and drink to keep the fun flowing way into the evening.
The main games include a Donkey Race with jockeys along one of the main roads of the town, the whole course (300m) is lined with hundreds of people that cheer on the teams and there is lots of excitement as the teams come into the final tight bend of the course.
To my amazement, even small local bars have video links covering the race and speakers dotted around the town to keep everybody updated with the latest action! You get a real sense of community spirit which is confirmed by the fact the participating teams and individual neighbourhoods raise the money to enter their teams.
The main piazza is at its busiest this time of year with locals and people visiting from all around the world, it is a great time to meet people and socialise while enjoying the games.
Other events include the Wheel barrow race, sack race, relay race and a very charged tug of war elevated on a stage for all to witness, a must see! Possibly one of the most impressive traditional games is the Jug race or Cannata race which involves women from the town in traditional dress running a course a couple of hundred meters long with a water jug balanced on their heads!
Another aspect of the Gonfalone is the traditional crafts you can watch, there are demonstrations with blacksmiths and other past crafts keeping the traditions alive. Plenty of singing and dancing can be found around different parts of the town when the local wine takes effect (why not!) and the food goes with out saying……
If you have any questions about the Gonfalone get in touch it is a must see and a time the town is transformed in to a celebration of local culture, traditional values and family togetherness…. oh and the town looks amazing of an evening.
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