Re-enactment of medieval daily life between 1250 and 1350.
The Mercato delle Gaite: a unique event
There are many historical re-enactment events in Italy. Most of them are based on tournaments or sports competitions. For 30 years, the strong point of the Mercato delle Gaite has been the rediscovery and revival of medieval daily life between 1250 and 1350.
The Mercato delle Gaite draws inspiration from the historical division of Bevagna (PG) into four districts called Gaite, at the base of the town’s administrative organization in medieval times. The aim of the event is to recreate the daily life of the village residents in the period between 1250 and 1350, with historical accuracy and a wealth of details.
For this reason, since 1983, a group of scholars has been carefully studying the historical Statute of the Municipality of Bevagna, examining the necessary information in order to recreate the political, administrative, economic and social life of the times. During ten days, at the end of June, Bevagna plunges into this remote past: the ancient shops of medieval crafts reopen their doors and resume their activities; the streets are populated by locals who, dressed in period costumes, experience the daily life of their ancestors eating, working, playing as they did. Now as then, the city is divided into four Gaite, but today they compete with each other in an attempt to give a historically accurate interpretation of the role they played during the Middle Ages. During this lively event, the spirit of competition is at the base of the 4 challenges: Crafts, Gastronomy, Market and Archery. The contests are based on a complex system of points awarded by scholars and experts in the various fields and called upon to judge the historical relevance of the reenactments. On the last day of the event, the winner is decreed and receives the Palio della Vittoria. The competitions are extremely engaging due to the residents’ strong sense of belonging to their neighbourhood.
This feeling stimulates a continuous improvement of each Gaita’s proposals in the various categories, with a clear benefit to the overall quality of the event. The Mercato delle Gaite now ranks among the most important historical events in Umbria and is a member of the Associazione Regionale Manifestazioni Storiche (“Regional Association of Historical Events”).
The four Competitions
The Mercato delle Gaite, is not only a delight for visitors, but is also a competition based on historical research among the four neighbourhoods. The final prize, Palio della Vittoria, is assigned according to the sum of the scores awarded in the individual competitions.
The Craft Contest
Each neighbourhood presents the reconstruction of two medieval crafts, covering the entire production chain from the raw material to the finished product. The crafts are presented to the juries through a reenactment that illustrates the various steps of production.
The Gastronomic Contest
The Gastronomic Contest consists in the presentation of a main course drawn from European cookbooks written between 1250 and 1350. The scenic animation and the environment in which the chosen dish is served reflect the social class it stems from and the type of situation it was served in.
The Archery Contest
In the Archery Contest, three archers for each neighbourhood challenge each other to hit a clay pot with the smaller possible number of arrows, at a distance ranging from 13 to 18 metres. The plates have four different diameters: from the largest of 22 cm to the smaller of 10 cm. Each archer disposes of 11 arrows.
The Market Contest
The most important of the competitions, the one that gives the name to the entire event: a section of each neighbourhood is transformed into a medieval market. The main aspects involved are the commerce of goods and the supply of services, with special attention paid to the adopted techniques and tools.