The Contese Estense is a folklore event which takes place every year in the week around the 15th of May, which is the celebration day of Sant’Ilaro, patron saint of Lugo. The event foresees the historical reenactment of the passage of the Duke Borso d’Este in Lugo in 1471, while on his way to Rome where the Pope Paul II awarded him ruling powers over Romandiola Ferrarese. The feast boasts an exciting series of themed events culminating in the Palio della Caveja, a unique competition which sees the four wards of the town fighting against each other.
From 1437 to 1598 Lugo was ruled by the Este; this was a period of great prosperity, stability and peace for the town and Lugo flourished to become the capital of Romandiola Ferrarese.
THE HISTORY OF THE FOUR TOWN WARDS
Rione de’ Brozzi
This part of Lugo dates back to the early 13th century. Its main road is Corso Mazzini. The name originates from a family that used to own an estate in the area; however it’s interesting to think of the name as having a connection with the numerous carts (birocci) that drove along the main road to reach the market in the town centre.
Rione Cento takes its name from the main road Via Cento, probably the oldest toponym in Lugo. In 1218 many locals were forced to move to Faenza and were able to return home thanks to the Count of Cunio, who rebuilt the town stronghold. It was at this stage that the three main wards of Lugo were established, one of which was the Santa Maria ward, named after the church in via Garibaldi (later renamed San Francesco da Paola in 1758).
Contrada del Ghetto
This ward originates from the 12th century settlement around the area that’s now called Corso Matteotti, earlier known as Via Codalunga due to its long and bendy shape. Since 1635 Lugo’s large Jewish community was forced in a ghetto, which was closed with gates at the end of Strada Codalunga, hence the ward’s name.
Rione Madonna delle Stuoie
This ward constitutes the old Borgo del Limite. Since 1737 Stuoie hosted a small church dedicated to the Madonna della Misericordia, which had been build by the affluent pharmacists’ family Rossi as their family tomb. The area was subjected to floods and common reeds prospered here; people used them to make mats (stuoia), hence the name. Even the Madonna became associated with it.
The association that organises the Contesa Estense aims to promote historical and cultural research of the traditions and heritage of Lugo’s communities.