San Martino's Carrese: a tradition to be lived

San Martino's Carrese: a tradition to be lived

The Carrese is the Carrese, race of the carts drawn by oxen, in San Martino in Pensilis, from 29 April to 2 May, Tradition consolidated in the lower Molise.

Engaging and exciting is the tradition that has been handed down for many centuries and which every year sees the participation of tourists and curious.

The winning wagon has the honor of carrying the body of Saint Leo, the patron saint of the village, during the procession on 2 May.

The origin of Carrese is due to the discovery of the relics of Saint Leo, in the twelfth century.

Legend tells that the Lords of San Martino and other neighboring countries went hunting and suddenly had to stop in the scrubland, where a monastery once stood, since the horses knelt without wanting to move.

The Lords, digging, found the body of Saint Leo.
Each of those present contended for the paternity of the discovery to be able to bring it into his feud, so as to come almost to arms. They put the body found on a cart pulled by oxen which, left free to himself and to the will of the saint, he finally choose to stop at San Martino.

Began the tradition, in the early nineteenth century the race took on aspects other than the original ones: the poor farmer who went to compete with the work ox was replaced by the rich landowner who could afford a small breeding of oxen used only for the ride.

At the same time, the rivalries between the authoritative families of the country were accentuated, since they saw in the victory of the race of the carts a means to enhance their prestige.

In this way, in the spirit of competition, many wagons were born.
Nowadays there are three wagons that compete and divide the country: the wagon of the Giovani with the colors white – light blue, the wagon of the Giovanotti with the colors yellow – red and since 2007 the wagon of the Giovanissimi with the yellow-green colors.

The Giovanotti and the Giovani are the true adversaries of the traditional Carrese, which have been the victories and defeats of the event for almost a century.

The appointment for the event begins on the evening of April 29 with the songs dedicated to Carrese in the principal square where the carts are paraded and the fireworks are lit.

April 30th is the long-awaited day of the competition: the wagons receive the blessing at 13, then going back to the starting point and wait for the mayor to start their race to the finish line.

The event ends on May 2, the day dedicated to the patron saint of San Martino and in which the carts are decorated and carried in procession, with the statue of Saint Leo placed on the winning wagon.