INSIDE FAENZA’S RENAISSANCE
According to tradition, each run of the Niballo is preceded by a historical parade that constitutes a figurative re-enactment of the orders, customs and grandeur of Faenza’s Signoria of Manfredi family, included between the government of Gian Galeazzo (1375–1417) and Astorgio III (1485–1502), with particular regard to the ‘Rioni’ (Districts).
The Districts have the obligation to manage their own local appearance on the basis of studies and historical research aimed at reconstructing representations of life moments and gestures of the city in the fifteenth century, in military, civil and social organization aspects. Pinturicchio, Piero della Francesca, Perugino, Gentile da Fabriano, Andrea Mantegna, Il Ghirlandaio … the paintings and frescoes of the greatest artists of the fifteenth century were used as a historical source for the realization of the costumes of the five Rioni.
The parade takes place the afternoon of the fourth Sunday of June, with the departure of the local groups from their headquarters, then following the streets and courses of their district they reach Piazza del Popolo, where the herald will read the proclamation of the jousting tournament. Altogether the Palio parade sees the presence of six groups (i.e. the five Rioni and the Municipal Group, which represents the institutions of the Municipality and of the Signoria), for a total of about 400 participants.
Faenza, is the city of Manfredi’s family. Noble lineage of Germanic origin, the Manfredi carried out their lordship over the city of Faenza from the beginning of the fourteenth century to 1501, the year of the papal conquest by the powerful Cesare Borgia, known as Valentino. The Manfredi were among the protagonists of the political scene of Romagna throughout the Middle Age and the Renaissance, generally holding the Guelph flag. This led them to clash with Frederick II (who besieged the city in 1241, managing to subdue it only after nine months of siege) and to an eternal rivalry with Accarisi, the main Ghibelline family. At the time of maximum extension of the dominion of the Manfredi, between 1411 and 1428, the Signoria dominated the Val di Lamone (from Faenza to Brisighella and Marradi), on the upper Senio valley and Solarolo. Eleven gentlemen and eight generations of Manfredi come in succession in governing the city: from the astute Francesco, forefather of the dynasty, to the unfortunate Gian Galeazzo, plague victim in 1417, passing through the hated Charles II and his brother Galeotto, betrayed and murdered by his wife Francesca Bentivoglio. The most significant legacies of the Manfredian Renaissance are represented by the Cathedral, whose construction began in 1474, and the city walls.