Italian ‘palio’ to kick start carnival

Ancient Italian sporting festival to take part in Barnstaple’s Rock Park

BARNSTAPLE is set to get its own taste of Italy on carnival morning on Saturday.

The town’s special day will be given a colourful kick-start by around 60 Italian performers from the twin town of Susa who will be bringing the pomp and pageantry of an Italian “palio” to Rock Park.

They will be recreating the spectacular medieval sporting event complete with classical and acrobatic flag throwing, archery, drumming and tug-of-war matches.

In Italy, the annual events are traditionally contested between neighbouring towns, hamlets or “comunes” and are a massive draw for locals and tourists alike.

Key medieval costumed characters from Susa’s parade, including the Marchesa Adelaide and her retinue, will be led by Barnstaple Town Youth Marching Band from the Square to Rock Park to open the event at 10.45am.

One there, Susa’s archers will take on the might of Barnstaple Archery Club, while their tug-of-war team face a strong challenge from Barnstaple Pilot Gig Club.

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In addition, the Susa drums and flags will give a breathtaking display of skill and acrobatics, as their flags spin and fly to the rhythm of the drums. Performances are planned for 11.20am and 1pm, and later, in the carnival procession itself

After the archery competition, members of the public over the age of seven will be able to have a got at archery themselves. They will also be able to meet Estelle Edwick from the Barnstaple Archery Club who is a member of the England Archery Team.

Barnstaple Mayor Ian Roome said: “We look forward to welcoming our visitors from Susa and I hope as many people as possible will come to Rock Park to see this colourful, noisy and exciting event.”

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