Every June in Fabriano -awarded the title of UNESCO City of Crafts and Folk Arts-, the Palio of San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist) celebrates the patron saint of the city and its main event, called the Sfida del Maglio (Challenge of the Hammer), closes the day.
Since it once was the dream of all young people of the valley to enter the workshop of master blacksmith Marino to become a helper, there was no other means to become one, than to challenge everyone. To remember this today is the Challenge, that kicks off with the relay race, continues with the Ring Game and ends up with the runners-“apprentices” (one for each district named after the four town Doors) that carry the iron to their respective Blacksmith; the first Blacksmith to build the perfect key to unlock the banner and allow it to be raised, wins the Sfida del Maglio and the title for a year.
Also to be mentioned is the Palio dei Monelli (Palio of the Boys), so named because the participants must be under 14. Here each Door can count on a Blacksmith and five boys, four of which perform a relay trail and one assists the blacksmith who is also assisted by two adults who help to keep the forge lit.
In addition to the Sfida del Maglio, during the event there are other pageants such as "Medieval Villages", which represent scenes of medieval life, the "Historical Parade" and "Popular Games" including the tug-of-war game, running with stilts, running with jugs, tournament of the Archers as well as the artistic floral decorations of the "Young Infioratori".
With a brief mention of its origin, the festivity of St. John the Baptist has madieval origin: in 1378, the year of the ascension of the saint to patron, after a period of struggles that had weakened the city, and as a result of the siege to the fortress, on 24th June which is the day of St. John the Baptist's feast, Guido Chiavelli conquered the city. To commemorate this event a great feast was established, which had to be repeated every year on the day of St. John's feast. On this day, in addition to the sacred celebration and presentation of Pali by the members of the various guilds, tournaments and various rides were performed in the high square of town.
The Palio of San Giovanni Battista recalls the "Golden Age" of Fabriano, that is the fourteenth century, a period in which the city, with its workshops and trades succeeds in the socio-political context of the time, and it sees the growth of its primitive craft activities up to a solid corporate economy of Arts and an amazing development in production of paper, leather, ceramics and iron.
This all also thanks to the entrepreneurial skills of families such as The Chiavellis, which established the dominion in town and ruled until 1435. During the "Golden Age" the figurative arts flourished; the pictorial school of Fabriano is remembered for names, among others, of the caliber of Allegretto Nuzi and Gentile da Fabriano.