The Invention of Tradition
7. Photo The Invention of Tradition (1)

Every year the Palio de San Michele takes place in the small town of Bastia Umbra in central Italy. At first glance, this local festival resembles many of the spectacles that have for centuries been conducted in towns throughout Italy - perhaps the most famous of all being the Palio di Siena. But the theatrical performances that take place during the Palio de San Michele have a distinctly contemporary feel. In fact, this event is not a historical re-enactment of an ancient fete; it is an “invented” tradition.

The Palio de San Michele got its start in 1963, when a local priest and a group of young people decided to turn the inaugural ceremony for a local church into a community-wide cultural event. Since then, it has grown to include a variety of art forms, from theater to music, and even sport, creating a space where all the local residents are able to express themselves artistically. Not only was this unique local
festival created by the local community, its evolution and continuation has helped to reinforce the sense of solidarity among the very community that created it. Giulia Binario’s film “The Invention of Tradition” makes us feel as if we, too, are part of Bastia Umbra, as we follow along with the year-long preparations that culminate in this exciting local festival.