Canelli, Italy
The Seige
by Gio
look below for Gio's Seige photo album

It's a magical dawn the one that, since ten years, rises on Canelli on the 3rd Saturday of June. The beautiful, hard-working town, whose name travels all around the world in the wake of the bubbles of its famous Spumanti, falls asleep on the previous night in the quiet, usual, life of our Age. But when it wakes up, the co-ordinates of space and time have suddenly changed. The people in Canelli get catapulted in the past in the middle of the XVIII Century, when the armies of the Gonzaga and of the Savoy clashed right here, on June 28, 1613, to decide with the weapons and with the blood who should have the rights and the property of the fertile surrounding land. This is the story: in 1612 Francesco Gonzaga, Duke of Mantova, died. After his death a fight started about who should have ruled the Duchy of Monferrato. Charles Emmanuel Duke of Savoy decided to start a war to solve the problem! In June 1613 Charles Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers, tried to enter Canelli, which was faithful to the Savoys, when only a few Savoy soldiers were there, and besieged the town. But the inhabitants resisted together with the few soldiers until the Savoy troops came to free them. To thank the people for their faith, the Duke of Savoy gave them 30 tax-free years.

Soldiers and commoners, armed and dressed in the 1600 way, get prepared to repel the attack of the enemies that besiege the town right out of the walls. Wagons with various goods make an uproar on the cobblestones in the rhythm of the hoofs of the horses. The echoing sound of the artillery invades the old town. Snorling guards go around looking for spies and traitors confused amongst the officers and the soldiers, the women, the beggars out of the taverns and the farmers who came looking for a shelter inside the city walls bringing their animals and their poor goods. The smell of the gunpowder and the noises of the battle fulfill the surroundings. Everywhere, agitated orders, surprise inspections, prisoners put in the stocks, duels, fights, scoundrels, stray people, heroes, rolling of drums, haughtiness of the officers, despair and fear of the common people. Then, the long night of wait of the besieged people, the final battle, the victory, the celebrations. Surprises, fun, emotions.

It's the magic of the Siege, the great Historical, Cultural and Folk revival that since 1992 draws in Canelli more and more visitors, new curious people and historical Military Groups from all Italy and Europe. But the Siege is also and above all a lot more than a simple revival or an appointment for tourists. It's a general state, a common feeling of all the town, an extraordinary transformation of the streets and of the inhabitants. Not actors playing a show for a town, but a town and its people being the protagonists of themselves. History lives again moment by moment naturally, with no schedules or forcements even in the smallest gestures, in the expressions of the faces, in the stones, in the streets of the ancient town climbing the hill of the Castle. This is the most true, unique and deep essence of the Siege, that involves the visitors, drawing them in person inside the recalled events and the daily life of the XVIII century. At the same time witness and protagonist, he who arrives in Canelli during the Siege becomes an integral part of History. He has to submit to the obligation of the "Tiletto", the safe-conduct without which he can't go around the besieged town; he has to provide himself with the "Health Form" to avoid the akward mark of plague-stricken; he has to ask the Friars of St.Augustin's Monastery for the indulgence for the sinners. He has to agree to the soldiers’ inquisition and even bear the pillory or the stocks....he can have dinner in one of the many taverns, in accordance with the 1600's cooking customs; he can watch from close up ancient handicraft shops, watch the battle, and celebrate the final victory with the best wine, plays and music. All of this is the Siege of Canelli.

Duke of Savoy= Charles Emmanuel

Gio's Seige Photo Album
1battaglia687.jpg (129601 bytes) bimbi31.jpg (29159 bytes) brothel.jpg (25426 bytes) DSC0017.jpg (105122 bytes)
DSC0018.jpg (75571 bytes) dukesavoy.jpg (28817 bytes) gioseige2.jpg (36114 bytes) gioseige3.jpg (45467 bytes)
printinghouse.jpg (54368 bytes) seigecastle.jpg (80467 bytes) thefriars.jpg (30039 bytes)