Tempus Est Jocundum: the Middle Ages in Gemona del Friuli

Madame et Messeri, prepare to take a dive into the past of Gemona del Friuli between dances and surprises… yes, because the Tempus Est Jocundum event reveals a truly unique history and mix of ingredients! I would never have thought, when I was studying history at school, that one day I would have been able to experience the Middle Ages in person. It’s wonderful… it’s sublime! Imagine wearing a nobleman’s shoes and immersing yourself in a past from more than 700 years ago! Dances, shows and a sumptuous feast are held in your presence.

So begins one of the unforgettable evenings at Tempus est Jocundum in Gemona del Friuli where the fragrance of ancient foods emerges from the decorated taverns and mingles with jugglers, street artists and craftsmen revealing the origins of today’s customs and habits.

Here I am now to take part in the parade and process through the town in an extraordinary dress belonging to a noble lady, skilfully adapted to my person and… between a smile and a photo, with the excitement making my eyes water and my heart beat with joy, I find myself looking back to my history books. Gemona mentioned was for the first time by Paul the Deacon in his ‘’Historia Langobardorum” and enjoyed its greatest prosperity under the Patriarchate of Aquileia (1077 – 1420); it was a strategic point for the trade between Italy and northern Europe, as there was the obligation to stop here for one night, pay a duty and affix a mark to one’s goods. Thus, Gemona soon became one of the most important centres in Friuli.

And now, ready for the great show? No, it is not the traditional fireworks show, but instead the “Magnificat”, a multivision of works and frescoes projected on the facade of the Duomo and bell tower.

A roll of drums, flags, artists and we find ourselves at the banquet of the nobles to toast with everyone, happy to live in this tempus. Refined and joyful dances follow each other but, at a certain point, in a theatrical touch, a mysterious character appears before me… a woman accused of witchcraft. Ah, that’s where I saw her! She is a female figure present in popular tales and is called ‘“Agana”. She is often accused of horrible misdeeds but actually passes down the origins of precious knowledge that has been handed down to us.

Speaking of banquets, in the markets I discovered an ancient “custom” of the shepherds: melted caciocavallo cheese dripped on to bread baked over embers… what a delight! And to think that it was their only food after all the effort of looking after their sheep.

Suddenly, as soon as the stop at the inn comes to an end, I hear the sound of drums. Yes, it comes from there, near the Duomo. I go to see and it’s beautiful! Carried away by fireworks and music, the “Magnificat” appears once again with its art this time taking me back to the extraordinary present of this rediscovered town, which presents itself with a clear identity no longer only wounded by the earthquake of 1976, but alive and steadfast as its past.

Ah, I forgot to tell you about the castle! A small climb from the city centre enables you to admire the view from above and here you will understand the town’s important position between Aquileia and Zuglio, and why it offers so much fascinating history. So what are you waiting for? Madame et Messeri Tempus est Jocundum!

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