Visitors from Susa re-enact traditional Italian sporting event

BARNSTAPLE was given a rousing Italian awakening when visitors from the twin town of Susa staged a traditional “palio” in Rock Park on Saturday morning.

The early morning “espresso” provided a lively kick-start to the day’s carnival celebrations and set the tone for a colourful, albeit slightly damp, day.

But while the weather was distinctly British, there was no doubting the Latin origins of the entertainment played out in front of a curious crowd of onlookers in the park.

More than 60 costumed performers from the northern Italian town recreated part of the traditional medieval sporting event, contested annually between neighbouring towns and hamlets across Italy.

The action included classical and acrobatic flag throwing, archery, drumming and tug-of-war matches. There was also a performance by the Barnstaple Town Youth Marching Band, who led the Italian visitors to the park in a procession from the Square.

Mayor of Susa Gemma Amprino was among the visitors invited to enjoy the Barnstaple fair and carnival celebrations.

Watching Saturday’s palio alongside Mayor of Barnstaple Ian Roome, she said: “Everyone’s hospitality has been absolutely amazing and I am sure that we will remember forever the good times that we have had here.”

The event proved a victory for Barnstaple’s foreign relations, as well as for members of the town’s archery and pilot gig clubs, who took the plaudits from the morning’s sporting contests.

While the gig club out-muscled their opponents in the tug-of-war contest, Barnstaple Archery Club was on target in the archery event.

The club later gave members of the public the chance to try out the sport for themselves with team member Estelle Edwick, a member of the England Archery Team.

Spokesperson Ron Harper said the event went well despite the weather and that the club planned to host more taster sessions at RMB Chivenor on October 8 and 15. For more details, email secretary@barnstaplearcheryclub.org.uk

For more pictures and video footage of the event, visit www.northdevongazette.co.uk