Throughout its centuries-long history, and in particular since the 1900s, the Ceri Festival has been documented by means of reports, photographs, videos and monographs. Until now this material was kept in various places and was not easy to consult.
The foundation of the Ceri Festival Documentation and Study Centre was inspired by the need to collect in one place the most complete documentation possible concerning the Festival in order to make it readily available to the Ceraioli and anyone interested in broadening their knowledge of it.
The Centre is an instrument for the preservation of memory and for disseminating information and is open to everyone with no entrance charge. It has come into being through the collaboration of the Ceraioli with local, regional, provincial and national associations and institutions responsible for the enhancement and safeguarding of cultural heritage.
Besides gathering documents, the Centre carries out research and organizes educational, training and informative activities relating to the safeguarding of intangible heritage.
The Centre assumes a function of coordination and liaison between the communities of the Ceraioli, local associations and institutions (the 'Maggio Eugubino' Association, Gubbio Town Council and the Diocese of Gubbio), the University of Perugia (Department of Man and Territory), and the regional and national administrations with offices in Umbria (Province of Perugia, Umbria Regional Council and the Umbrian Superintendency for Fine Arts and Landscape).
The Department of Philosophy and Social, Human and Educational Sciences of the University of Perugia has the scientific direction of the Centre.
THE CERI FESTIVAL
Its was originated by the candlelight vigil (‘cero’ means candle) held by the townsfolk when St. Ubaldo died on 16th May 1160. Over time the original candles were substituted first by structures made of wood and wax, and later by the present-day wooden structures surmounted by the statues of Saints Ubaldo, George and Anthony Abbot, who are respectively the patrons of the medieval corporations of builders, tradesmen and agricultural workers.
On the first Sunday in May, the Ceri are carried dismantled in a horizontal position, down from the Basilica of St. Ubaldo, on Mount Ingino to the Palace of the Consuls in the heart of the medieval town. There they remain until the 15th May when they are assembled, elevated in Piazza Grande and raced through the town on the shoulders of the Ceraioli.
The itinerary followed during the dramatic and extenuating headlong race comprises a circuit of the old town and the ascent of Mount Ingino. At the sunset the Ceri are carried back to the Basilica where they will be housed until the following first Sunday of May.
Saint Ubaldo Baldassini
Saint Ubaldo Baldassini (1085(?) – 1160) was the leader of the church in Gubbio for more than thirty years, rebuilding the city after a catastrophic fire (1126), defending it against the siege of eleven confederate cities (1151) and convincing Federico Barbarossa (1155) to spare it from destruction.
He died on May 16th 1160.
He was canonised on May 5th 1192: Pope Celestino III counted Saint Ubaldo among the champions of the faith and invited the people from Gubbio to celebrate with hilariter and joy, as they had already started doing.
On September 11th 1194 the body of Bishop Ubaldo was transferred onto Mount Ingino, where it is still venerated today.
The ceraiolo is dressed as follows: white trousers, red waistband, red scarf around the neck and hanging over the shoulders.
The uniform is finished off with a yellow shirt for ceraioli supporting Saint Ubaldo, blue for Saint George and black for Saint Anthony. The colours were adopted according to the clothes worn by the three saints: yellow like Saint Ubaldo’s cape, blue like Saint George’s cloak and black like Saint Anthony’s robes.
The First Capodieci is chosen annually in an election organised by the respective “Families”.
He takes part in all stages of the Festival, is the leader of the “Alzata” (Raising of the Ceri) and guides the Cero in the most important parts of the race. He wears the same uniform as the others, except that the symbol of his own Cero is sewn onto his shirt: mitre and staff for Saint Ubaldo, helmet shield and halbard for Saint George and a flame for Saint Anthony.
There are two captains: the First and the Second.
They are picked by lottery from amongst the members of the University of Bricklayers, Stonemasons and Associated Arts, recognised by common agreement since 1891 as the overseers of the Ceri Festival. They take part in and coordinate all aspects of the Festival and during the race they proceed ahead of the Ceri (three tall wooden structures surmounted by the statues of Saint Ubaldo, Saint George and Saint Anthony) on horseback. Since 2012 they have worn new uniforms in a Napoleonic style.
He marks the various stages of the Festival with blasts on his horn; during the race he precedes the Ceri on horseback and announces their arrival to the crowd.
He flanks the Captains, also on horseback, and carries the banners of the Gubbio Comune; he also wears a Napoleanic style uniform