The “Palio di San Giovanni Battista” is a festival that recalls the 14th Century, a time in which Fabriano experienced its golden age. During this period the town affirmed its importance in the sociopolitical context of that time and saw a fast economic growth thanks to handcraft, paper, leather and pottery production, metallurgy. All this was supported by the entrepreneurial spirit of families such as the Chiavelli family, which ruled the town until 1435 and marked important milestones in the history of Fabriano. This is the century of the figurative arts, where the painting school of Fabriano reached its climax with the well-known artist Gentile da Fabriano. The festival of San Giovanni Battista has very ancients roots; San Giovanni became the saint patron of Fabriano only in the 1378 when Guido Chiavelli, after long battles against the rival families, defeated them and conquered the town on the 24th of June, the day of “San Giovanni Battista”.
After years of oblivion the “Palio” had been resumed in 1995 and since then it takes place every June. To pay homage to the Saint Patron, the four districts of Fabriano (called “porte”) take parts to different challenges (e.g. popular games, creation of artistic flower carpets, archery…). The final challenge, called “Sfida del Maglio”, takes place on the 24th of June. In this contest the four blacksmiths of each “porta” have to craft a perfect key starting from a rough iron bar. If the key is well-made, it would fit in a key-hole which unlocks a mechanism which let the banner of the winning “porta” rise to the sky. The winning blacksmith will be awarded as the best blacksmith in Fabriano for the whole year.