Structure of Parade

The “Parata dei Turchi” should be intended as genuine historical reenactment; Through the figures, the characters, the costumes, the accessories, the weapons, three precise historical periods are told: the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Nineteenth Century. The Parade, i.e. the long sequence of figures, animals and other characteristic elements is divided in frameworks, in Italian “Quadri”. These frameworks are three and each one represents a specific period, in sequence (from the beginning) the Nineteenth Century, the Renaissance and the Middle Ages. Attending the Parade therefore is equivalent to the vision of a film projected backwards, from the latest events to the most remote ones. The styles, the chromatic aspects and the setting of each of the frameworks distinguishes them from the others. The central framework, corresponding to Renaissance, is divided in five smaller sections, every section recalls an event or a important episode of the history of Potenza or of the Patron Saint San Gerardo. Here in the following the structure of the Parade in detail:

Framework 1800 – Beginning of the Parade

The very first framework refers to social and cultural context of the nineteenth century, described in detail by the Potentine historian Raffaele Riviello who reported with great accuracy the structure of the people consisting of nobles, bourgeois, religious, craftsmen and peasants who awaited the traditional celebrations of the Patron Saint. The Potentine people identified themselves in the celebration by interpreting the components of the Parade through well-defined disguises, costumes and roles. The costumes in particular are highly sought and specific, providing a picture of the complex social structure of nineteenth-century, from the noble and wealthy classes to the popular people to whom were reserved the roles of the Turkish soldiers, the Latin swordsmen and the peasants. Today, this framework is characterized by numerous figures that take part in the procession with highly sought and elegant costumes, made as prescribed by Disciplinary (White Book of Parade) following precise stylistic guidelines by professional tailors.

Framwork 1500 – Central part of the Parade

The second framework is the largest and most articulated section of the Parade, it is divided into 5 minor sections that tell specific moments or episodes. The five sections belonging to this framework clearly inspired by Renaissance represent the following elements: I – “The Turks and their life”, II – “The Turkish army”, III - “San Gerardo defeat the Turks”, IV – “The liberation of the City”, V – “The arrival in Potenza of the Count Don Alfonso De Guevara”. This section is characterized by a great variety of clothes and costumes, weapons, musical instruments, flags, drapes and other decorative elements.

Each of the five sections in which the 1500s framework is divided is characterized by some distinctive elements, recalling important events or facts:

  • I - “The Turks and their life” – In this section Turkish soldiers parade such as halberdiers and infantryman, warriors, nobles (on foot or horseback), dancing odalisques in the classic Middle Eastern costumes. Closes the section the “Grande Turco” (Great Turk) in the carriage, better known as "C’vuddinè", to recall the Moorish presence in Europe conquered through invasions, battles and raids often ended with the conquest of large areas. This section therefore provides a picture of the Ottoman society and relative social structure.

  • II - “The Turkish army” – This section consist of a procession of numerous Turkish warriors, archers, infantryman, halberdiers, lancers with the captain of the army. They often scream and shout in order to inspire fear and terror in the enemies (in this case the visitors attending the Parade). The section is closed by the city guard army, consisting in a bunch of the Latin swordsmen, who fight to defend the Christian faith and also the ancient city of Potentia (Potenza). When the Parade reach out XVIII Agosto square (close to the City centre), a battle between Turkish army and City Guard is staged, this scene is crucial since recalls (during the Parade) the great battle of Lepanto, fought on October 7, 1571 a.C., between the Ottoman armies and the "Santa Liga" (Holy league) formed by the Spanish and the Venetians armies. The battle of Lepanto ended with the defeat of the Ottomans, the battle staged between Turks and Latin swordsmen instead ends with the deposition of weapons symbolizing a renewed feeling of brotherhood by promoting peace between different religions and confessions.

  • III - “San Gerardo defeat the Turks” – In this section the legendary salvation of Potenza City by San Gerardo is staged, according to the legend San Gerardo drove out the Turkish army ready to invade the City. In this section San Gerardo is transfigured in a “child bishop” conducted on the Ship driven by Moorish slaves. The child San Gerardo blesses the people by recalling the miraculous episode in which the warrior angels were invoked, from the sky they went down in the City chasing and defeating the Turkish armies. Of course, this episode merges legend and myth, but transfiguring another important historical episode that occurred in 1683 a.C. with the battle of Vienna, another fight that saw the capitulation of Ottomans.

  • IV - “The liberation of the City” – After the salvation of the City occurred thanks to the intercession of San Gerardo follows a long sequence of figures linked to the social components Potentine people, horseback nobles, dames, notables, dukes, accompanied by trumpeters, soldiers and jesters. Thus providing a picture of the culture and social structure of Potentine people in the Renaissance period.

  • V - “The arrival in Potenza of the Count Don Alfonso De Guevara” – To the procession of Section IV follows the stage of the arrival in the City of the Count Don Alfonzo de Guevara, preceded by other nobles and notables of the time, religious figures, such as priests, friars and deacons, followed by infantryman and knights who precede the two key figures, the Mastro Giurato (equivalent to local official) and Count Don Alfonzo de Guevara, followed by drums and the Palio of San Gerardo. As previously mentioned, this section recalls the important episode reported in a official document by the notary Scafarelli in 1578 a.C. This episode is also present in the Parade, when the procession reach Porta Salza, one of the ancient gates of the City located in the southern part of the Historic Centre, this important event is staged. The Mastro Giurato, the magistrate who took care and guaranteed the administration of the City during the centuries, deliver the keys of the City to Count Don Alfonso de Guevara, thus symbolizing the commitment of the City and the Potentine people in the hands of the Count.

Framwork 1100 – Last part of the Parade

The third and the last framework of the Parade is set in the years in which Gerardo della Porta lived, after which he became the Patron Saint of Potenza, so corresponding to natural closure to the Parade. This framework stages a picture of the life in the medieval period of Potenza characterized by a deep feeling of faith and devotion towards the figure of the Saint. A small procession is staged typically inspired by Middle Ages highlighting several religious figures, such as friars and priests, the popular class made of farmers and craftsmen and, in particular, the knights of “San Giovanni di Gerusalemme” (Saint John of Jerusalem), a monastic-knightly Order founded after the First Crusade and devoted to the assistance and rescue of the persecuted and oppressed Christian faithful. The “Tempietto di San Gerardo” (Temple of San Gerardo) brought by shoulder by “Portatori del Santo” (Bearers of the Saint) closes the Parade. This wooden simulacrum symbolizes the figure of San Gerardo who descends among Potentine people along the streets of the City the day before the anniversary of the Saint (May 30). The Parade ends when the Temple arrives at the Cathedral of San Gerardo, located in the Historic Centre of Potenza.

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Origins of the Parade

Structure and Stages

Characters and Components