With sports and folklore, the Festa del Sole has only one protagonist, the Velino River that crosses the city of Rieti and is the barycentre of its history, culture and landscape.
The Festa del Sole was founded in 1969 and involves a group of competitions that take place on the Velino River between Rieti’s rioni or neighbourhoods (Borgo, Campoloniano, Piazza Tevere, Porta Cintia, Porta Romana, S. Nicola, Villa Reatina, Porta Arringo, San Francesco):
- the Duel of the Perch: on a catwalk, a contradaiolo or contender, armed with sticks and well-padded, tries to make their opponent fall into the water;
- the Bicycle Race: equipped with floats and paddles instead of wheels, contenders race each other on the river, first going in the direction of the water course and then going back against the current;
- the Race of the Fiumarole Boats: one of the hardest challenges where two competitors per rione, each equipped with a wooden oar, first row the boat in the direction of the current and then in the opposite direction;
- the Swimming Competition in bathing suits in the icy river water;
- the Tub Race- Palio della Tinozza: the most awaited race, at the end of the Festival, in which a competitor for the rione covers about 800 metres sitting inside a tub (a sort of “half vat”), paddling with a single wooden oar.
Each race assigns points (the Tub Race awards double points) and, at the end of the Festival, the rione that comes first wins the edition and the Palio (banner) painted by a local artist.
This tradition came about through the twinning of the city of Rieti.
The twinning between Rieti and Itô (March 27, 1985) came about thanks to the article published by Gazzetta dello Sport in 1979 on an event called the Festival of the Wooden Tub and held in the Japanese city, where the participants competed in the water with wooden boats similar to those used in Rieti’s Festa del Sole.
The twinning in 2000 with Saint-Pierre-lès-Elbeuf came about thanks to the passion for river sports in this village in southern France.
For more information: www.festadelsolerieti.it