Palio Asini Alba

The Donkey Palio and Historical Reenactment


Sep 2023
Type of Event

Rule number one: respect for the main protagonist, the donkey. Rule number two: have fun. Rule number three… Well, that horse race held around the city walls of Asti in 1275 still hurts a little bit, not a lot, but it is still there and it is hard to swallow.

The Donkey Palio in Alba is run with a light-heart, so they say, nevertheless it has preserved its intrinsic value as a mockery of a rival town that had ravaged the Monastery of San Frontiniano, south of Alba. According to the chronicles of the time, the people of Asti, galvanised by this success, decided to run the Palio in the Langa region. The people of Alba could not tolerate this insolence and, in order to mock their enemy, they set up an improvised city palio with donkeys.

Since then, a lot of water has passed under the bridges of the Tanaro, the river that connects Alba and Asti like a group of climber however, despite suspensions and rebirths, the two Palios continue to this day to enliven the last cozy days of a summer that is fading away to open the doors to the first cocooned days of autumn.

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In-between history and mockery, the Donkey Palio in Alba is staged on the first Sunday in October. It is run for sheer fun and is won only if the donkey endorses the idea, depending on his mood and his desire to compete. A competitive spirit subject to the whims of this friendly animal, which dominates the scene at the expense of breathless jockeys who have to convince the donkey, mostly with good manners, to get to the finish line. There are two heats and a final and at the end there will be a winning village, but how tiring! The donkeys do as they please and the event, precisely because of this unpredictability, is very funny and joyful: after all, these animals represent the desire for rebellion that is innate in every human being. This is a real and genuine show,  preceded by a historical reenactment with traditional re-enactments and flag games, which spellbinds the vast number of visitors and marks the start of the most fragrant time of the year: this is how the International Alba White Truffle Fair kicks off.





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