Gubbio, I Ceri di Giuseppe Cardoni e Luigi Loretoni
by Piergiorgio Branzi
Every city and town, in Italy, has its saint. And vice versa.
Gubbio is fortunate and well-protected, with three saints watching over it: Ubaldo, Anthony and George. They are saints of
great popularity and devotion from the entire Christian community. Gubbio honors and celebrates them together, putting
them together in a single contest.
I had seen it only on the TV screen, and it had left me feeling strange. “The Race of the Ceri” didn’t seem to me much like
a Mediterranean celebration of the luminaries, the colors, the festoons, the disordered sounds and gestures, among the
folklore, superstitions and reverence. It appeared to me rather like a representation of unknown cultures, with those wooden
totems of severe and unusual profile, possibly traces of continents far off in time and space. The warmth of the Catholic
connotation seemed obscure.
The masterly, really masterly photographic images of Loretoni and Cardoni place prominence on the essence, the heart of
this singular rite.
The saints, Ubaldo, Anthony and George, each represent a slice of the city, each collecting the tribute of its own fan base to
compete in a race which is not a competition, with the order of departure and arrival always already decided and defined,
where passing and position changes are not foreseen. The rite, from these images, seems consumed in an uncontainable
explosion of faith and completely inclusive civic participation.
In sequence, without dawdling over the preparatory rituals, the images of Loretoni and Cardoni find faces marked by
emotion, that cry out, that laugh with overwhelming joy, that weep. Frames that focus on a sheaf of hands raised in unison,
entreating, and the arms that support, the bodies bent, contorted under the weight of the sacred simulacrum, in an exhausting
race, in a vehemence that seems to recall the furious courses of Medieval battering rams.
Squads of men unleash all their might to give the Cero the maximum acceleration along the twisting ancient streets and