The city of Gubbio is very well known for its traditional race of the candles, which takes place every year on May 15th during the eve of the city’s patron saint, St. Ubaldo.
Bricklayers’ protector, he is a very important figure in the region, that is why people want to commemorate him by having a very specific ritual.
On that day, his statue, as well as the one of St. Anthony the Abbot, patron saint of both donkey breeders and peasants, and the one of St. George, patron saint of haberdashers’ protector, are put on 3 pedestals which should represent candles and people start the race.
The ritual is very interesting and tourists consider it charming, due to the raising of the pedestals in the square at noon. Right after it, the pedestals have to take a tour around the square for 3 times, before being placed in the Savelli street where the race starts. In the afternoon there is a procession which leads the statues to the bishop in Dante Street, for the blessing.
The race starts when pedestal bearers, which are called ceraioli in Italian, run across the streets while carrying the pedestals on their shoulder. When they reach the main square, they have to take a tour around the square for 3 more times, before going to the Angel Gate to start the ascent.
Once they reach the St. Ubaldo Basilica, located on the top of Mount Ingino, the race is over. The pedestals are stored there, while the statues are brought back to the city while having a procession.
Originally the rite was associated to the spring coming, but it is not sure how and when it started. According to the tradition, tourists really appreciate it, so as you say, the show must go on.