THIRD SATURDAY IN JUNE
from 10.30 a.m.: people prepare the entertainments.
3.30 p.m.: FIRST RUMOURS OF WAR
The peasants leave the country areas and seek shelter within the town walls. The troops begin to move.
4.00 p.m.: THE TOWN DURING THE SIEGE
The warring cries approach and grow closer. The enemy presses at the gates. The captains announce the beginning of the siege.
5.30 p.m.: THE FIRST BLOODY COMBAT
In the fields surrounding the castle, a bitter combat is underway. The Mantuan troops inflict heavy losses on the Savoyards. Those wounded are healed and the fallen are buried in a common grave.
8.00 p.m.: THE LONG NIGHT OF THE BESIEGED
While the besieged dine in inns and taverns, the enemy sets the castle on fire. The captain of the guards asks the local people for help and so the women and men of Canelli set to work and succeed in putting out the huge fire.
THIRD SUNDAY IN JUNE
10.00 a.m.: THE ENEMY ASSAULT
The situation becomes increasingly confused. People fight at the gates.
The enemy demands that
the townspeople surrender. They initially decide to attempt to negotiate a settlement, but eventually the troops from Canelli decide to hold out
11.30 a.m.: THE ENEMY IS FORCED OUT
The enemy invades the town. The local citizens back their troops and the enemy is obliged to flee, abandoning their dead and wounded soldiers on the battlefield.
12.00 a.m.: THE VICTORY
People rejoice as the captain of the guards and the town authorities proclaim the end of the siege.
12.30 a.m.: PEOPLE CELEBRATE THE VICTORY
The victory dinner is accompanied by various entertainments. Duke Carlo Emanuele of Savoy rewards the people of Canelli by exempting them from the payment of taxes for the following 30 years.
from 3.00 p.m. : the celebrations continue within and outside the city walls. Tourists are entertained by a series of performances and games, among them the contest of the "carra" (cart where wine barrels are carried) and they can visit stalls where typical wines and food are available.
9.30 p.m.: Fireworks celebrate the victory and spread their cheerful lights in the sky above the hill of Villanuova.
CONDITIONS OF ATTENDANCE
The commemoration is organized in such a way that visitors can immerse themselves in its magical atmosphere, even if only for one day, without losing sight of the significance of this historic event.
The admission to the historical centre and to the various performances is FREE.
To avoid the pillory or having to face other unpleasant sanctions, people are advised to obtain a valid pass issued by the military authorities before entering the fortified town
To visit the cellars where the wine is aged and to go sight-seeing in the area, it is advisable to book in advance.
We advise people, and in particular large groups who want to take part in the victory dinner to book, since seats are limited.
Bookings must take place by no later than June 1.
DINNER OF THE BESIEGED
The dinner is organized by the various villages, groups and restaurants participating in the event. It takes place in the inns and taverns within the historical town centre. The meals are served by inkeepers and serving wenches wearing the costumes of the period. Meals consist of plain food cooked with the few ingredients at the disposal of the besieged according to the recipes of the period. There will be no restrictions regarding wines.
The cost will vary Euro from 8,00 to 16,00
THE VICTORY LUNCH AND DINNER
The various inns will celebrate the victory with a sumptuous repast with numerous courses according to the traditions of the seventeenth century, served by costumed waiters. While dining, people will be entertained by various performances.
The cost will vary Euro from 8,00 to 21,00
This celebration dates back to a well known historical event during the wars of succession which took place in the Duchy of Monferrato.
It began in 1612 when Francesco Gonzaga, the Duke of Mantova, who had claims on Monferrato, died. His death gave way to many a controversy for the rights of succession. With the stated aim of defending the age-old interests of the House of Savoy, Carlo Emanuele 1, Duke of Savoy and grandfather of Gonzaga's only daughter, decided to resolve the issue by taking to arms.
Canelli, on the border between Monferrato and Savoy and completely fortified, was subjected to endless disputes and forced to endure numerous incursions and attacks.
In June 1613, Carlo Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers, succeeded in crossing the river Belbo and besieged the town with both a cavalry and infantry regiment and numerous guns, thinking to take advantage of the lack of soldiers at the "Canellesi" fortifications.
The troops from Monferrato attempted to enter Canelli by various means, but the small garrison left in charge was supported in a truly determined manner by the local population who, in sacrificing themselves, reacted defiantly and with such resolve that they succeeded in holding out against all the attacks levelled against them.
The enemy was forced to retreat with the loss of some important knights, captains and soldiers. Many were wounded. Others fled in such fear that they abandoned weapons, guns, spears and other equipment all over the field of battle.
To show his gratitude for their loyalty and bravery, the Duke of Savoy rewarded the people of Canelli by exempting them from the payment of taxes for the following thirty years.
The siege of Canelli is not only a mere historical commemoration. It is the feast of the "Canellesi" who want to express their identity by recreating their past and by revoking their origins, as these represent the genuine spirit of every community. They make history and valiant deeds live again. The most distinctive feature of this historic event is that is undertaken by the local people themselves. They are totally involved in the recreation from start to finish and it is they who succeed in creating a mood which is not easily found in any other pageant.
It is a celebration without embellishment. History is always at the forefront. It lives and breathes in the deeds and the expressions of the people walking in the streets, in the shadows and in the stones of the old City.
For two days more than one thousand "Canellesi" wearing the traditional costumes of the period and always acting as if they were actually taking part in the most crucial events of a siege, re-create the atmosphere and the reality of a town under siege. The visitor becomes both protagonist and witness of the events, actor and spectator mingling with the officers and soldiers or with the farmers and their animals, sitting in inns and taverns often haunted by evil-doers and beggars, starting at the sudden bursts of the enemy artillery, swerving and ducking while walking, to avoid colliding with the carts laden with goods rumbling and thundering along the cobbled streets.
The visitor, like the soldiers and the common people, must expect to be subjected to the strict conditions imposed by the pass. He or she must accept the possibility of being interrogated by the guards doing their rounds, being searched, even being put in the pillory if found to have imbibed a drop too much in the inns.
Everywhere the smell of gunpowder pervades, drums beat, commands are bellowed. There are unexpected inspections, moments when there is nothing much happening followed by bursts of excitement, displays of arrogance, sorrow and despair.
Surprise and never-ending suspense, a continuous barrage of emotions: this is the siege of Canelli!
SIGHTSEEING IN CANELLI
Canelli is one of Italy's wine capitals. In few other cases have oenology and grape-growing so deeply influenced the landscape, economy, history and the very life of a community.
On the hills surrounding the town grapes have always been grown: at first to satisfy local needs, then, from the late Middle Ages onwards, to develop an increasingly flourishing trade which soon became the most important resource of the territory.
"The most important produce of this land is wine, which is delicate, sweet and perfect, due to the labour of the inhabitants of the region who live on the products of these hills". It is with these words in 1756 that the intendent of the Royal Finances , in a report concerning Canelli, noted the importance of Canelli as a prominent producer of fine wines and, at the same time, witnessed the beginning of a "Golden Age" for "Canellese"oenology. Improvements in production techniques and, above all, the establishment of the tradition of using corks and glass bottles led to export of the "Moscato di Canelli", the main product of this area, all over the world. As a result of the international success achieved by this wine, the first oenological industries appeared, serving to shape the economic and social development of the town even with regard to the planning and layout of its buildings.
And so it continues in our times- the "wine civilization" is still still the "genius loci" of Canelli. It steadily maintains production without drawing attention to itself. In fact, it might be said that sometimes it is even too modest in its achievements.
In spite of the extensive damages to its sites in times long gone and those more recent, the town still exudes an air of mystery and enchantment. Even if time has marred its beauty, it is worth rediscovering Canelli in all its charm, a charm which is derived from the silent glamour of its old walls, from the steep roads, from the lanes dating back to times long gone, from the houses whose attraction does not lie in their artistic characteristics but in the dignity of their simple, austere shapes.
There is something special about the remains of the ancient fortifications and ramparts, whose significance is now an intriguing mystery, in the baroque churches which witness the urban and reserved dignity of old Canelli, proud of being neither town nor village and always conscious of its limitations, ever ready to convert these into virtues.
And then, as you look up above, there in front of you lies the vineyard, there are the hills, there is the rich pervading aroma of the earth, of the countryside itself which mingles with that of the urban spaces. There is a country landscape which is among the oldest and most beautiful of Northern Italy, the result of a long period of dedication and nurturing by the many generations of peasants who have worked these vineyards for centuries, perhaps for milleniums.
While travelling through the countryside, tourists are likely to be greeted initially with a certain degree of suspicion but this soon becomes a genuine, hearty and all-embracing welcome.
Città di Canelli – Ufficio Manifestazioni Via Roma n. 37 14053 Canelli AT
fax 0039 141-820255