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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Gara a Stresa on San'Ambrogio Day

Did you know there’s a war going on in Stresa? It’s true… and it’s been going on now for years and years. Luckily though, the battles only happen once every year, on December 7, San’Ambrogio’s Day. On that day, this normally peaceful little city becomes the scene of the Gara a Stresa, the heated rivalry betweens the Borromei and Viscontei families. All in good fun of course, Stresa is divided evenly down the center at Via Roma. In the past, teams representing both factions battled it out with such contests and competitions as the tiro alla fune, otherwise known as tug-of-war, and the palo della cuccagna, which is a physical challenge involving a tall pole with prizes hung from the top, and men scaling each other's shoulders in order to reach them. Nowadays, however, the conflict has been moved to the relative safety of the soccer field, and a calcio, soccer, match between teams representing each family.

At the end of the day, with the winners determined, the division in the road is removed, enemies become friends again, and the city becomes peaceful once more, until the next year…

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