La Festa di San Michele, which began in 1932, is a lively and beloved three-day event in celebration of the Patron Saint of Carmignano, San Michele Arcangelo. Occurring annually around the 29th of September, the day of the Patron Saint, four rioni (districts) of Carmingnano compete against each other in elaborate theatrical processions and in a contentious donkey race (palio dei ciuchi) around the central piazza. This year it will take place on September 28th, 29th, and 30th, beginning on Friday.
San Michele: Who is involved?
Four rioni participate in the festival’s competitions, and each represent a different neighborhood within Carmignano. Each rione has their own color, mascot, and motto. The districts are as follows:
Rione Bianco, represented by a tower, with the motto “Silenziosamente” (Silently)
Rione Giallo, represented by a lion, with the motto “Giro – Girotondo” (Ring-around-the-rosy)
Rione Verde, represented by a hammer and an anvil, with the motto “Non si sa come” (We don’t know how)
Rione Celeste, represented by the sword and balance of the Archangel, with the motto “Solo se avrai corraggio” (Only those who have courage)
San Michele: What events should I be looking for?
Each day of the festival weekend, the four districts present their individual sfilate folcloristiche (spectacular procession), to be followed by one round of donkey racing around the piazza. Occurring alongside these competitive events are theatrical exhibitions surrounding the history and traditions of Carmignano put on by il Gruppo Storico Carmignano. In total, there are three rounds of parades and three rounds of donkey races.
San Michele: How are the winners for the parades and the races chosen?
The parade demonstrations of each rione are assessed by a panel of five judges, looking for excellence in music, costumes, floats and choreography. The judges assign a point value to each presentation, and the district with the most points over the three days is crowned champion for that portion of the competition.As for the palio, four jockeys (one for each rione) race four laps around the piazza, each receiving a point value corresponding to their finishing place. After the three rounds of races, the district with the most points wins this section of the festival. The grand prize is a trophy in the form of the Patron Saint Michele Arcangelo which is received enthusiastically by the rione and its residents.
San Michele: How do I attend?
The events take place in the central piazza of Carmignano, Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, which is accessible from the following locations:
From the north: take the exit Prato-Calenzano, in the direction of Indicatore Poggio a Caiano
From the south: take the exit Scandicci, taking FI-PI-LI for either the Signa or Lastra a Signa exits, following in the direction of Poggio a Caiano
From A1 I: take the exit Prato Est or Prato Ovest, following the directions for Poggio a Caiano and Seano
From the Firenze-Pisa-Livorno highway: take the exit Montelupo Fiorentino, continuing to the right until you reach the exit for Artiminio; take the exit Lastra a Signa continuing to Signa-Comeana
By train: Prato Station and Cap bus route or Florence Central station and Copit bus route, stopping at Poggio a Caiano
By bus: from Prato – Cap bus route; from Florence and Pistoia – Copit and Cap bus routes
Parking: La Serra and Seano zones have available parking space, with a free bus shuttle to the piazza from the lot
San Michele: How much does it cost?
The entrance fee is €6. Not bad at all for this perfect mixture of fun and folklore!
San Michele: How can I follow the event?
Article written by Natura Agape Sant Foster