Siena Lyon: from Palio to Pennons

In the 1980s, to celebrate its glorious Renaissance past, Lyon tried to import the mythical Italian race, the Palio, before restoring the purely Lyon tradition: Fête des Pennons …

In 1984, a strange idea arose in Lyon: to celebrate the glorious history of the city in the Renaissance, why not import the famous Palio from Siena … About.

Since 1650, the Palio, wild races, twice in the summer (July 2 and August 16) set fire to the central square of Siena, this square del Campo in the form of a shell, a symbol of the Tuscan city. Topo is simple: in the city center and in front of a hot audience a dozen riders representing 17 districts of the city, contrast, compete, without a saddle on the backs of klyach, three times at hellish speed (less than a minute and a half in general) around the square, and let the best win! The best, or rather, the most decisive, knowing that all blows are allowed, except, perhaps, to cut the hocks of enemy horses. And even…

Everyone contrada has its own emblem, from an eagle to a hedgehog passing a giraffe or even a unicorn, and the struggle between districts is ruthless and constant. The winner is the horse that finishes the race first, even if its rider is kicked out during the race. The contrada whose horse came first (and alive …) receives the Palio, a painted silk flag.

From 1984 to 1987, Belcour Square was transformed into a high-speed equestrian ring, where riders from different parts of Lyon compete. The first edition in 1984 was a bit successful, the next two a little less … It is not easy to import into Lyon the historical tradition from other places, even extremely impressive.

In 1987, farewell to the Lyon Palio, long live the Lyon pennants, a true Lyon tradition. In the Middle Ages, the Pennons were a type of civilian militia designed to defend the city. To ensure night protection of the city and fire fighting, each district provided a military contingent grouped under the flag (flag). Farewell, land of Sienna, long live the cobblestones of the missing …

May 22, 1987: Resurrection of Pennon during the grand Renaissance festival with a parade in costumes, pyrotechnic orgies and horse races (the last rudiment of the palio) put Belcour under the horse’s tail. For several years, every year in May, the Lyon pennants will become a popular spring festival in Lyon … Earlier in the year, December 8, which became the Festival of Lights, undoubtedly stole attention from it (and, of course, some subsidies …).

Today, the Pennons are still alive, but with a reduced sail: farewell to Barnum and a horse fiesta in Belcourt Square. Every year at the end of May there is a Renaissance festival, which always gathers several thousand spectators.

On Saturday, May 21, a parade in costumes will take place Prescu’Ile to Old Lyon. And on Sunday, meet at the Pennon Mass at 10:30 a.m. at the Primatiale Saint Jean before the big show at 5:00 p.m., Place Saint-Jean.

As for Palio, who is undoubtedly rebellious against any cultural appropriation, he retreated to his native land of Siena. The next one will take place on July 2 in Piazza del Campo in front of tens of thousands of spectators.

Lyon Pennons memory page

© France 3 Rhône Alps

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