Festa del Sole

The Sun Festival is an event that takes place every year during the second half of July, one of the many opportunities that Rieti offers to its citizens, spending one week all together along the banks of the Velino River.
For over 50 years, the Sun Festival has seen the districts of the city competing in water games, the Velino River as the main character, culminating in the most important competition that is the Palio della Tinozza.

Particularly loved by all the citizens and tourists who come back every year to enjoy this unique show, the event attracts around 5000 spectators each year, including the representatives of the Japanese delegation from Ito. It was an article published by the Gazzetta dello Sport in 1979 to highlight an analogy with the Japanese city. Here the journalist talked about an event called the Wooden Bath Festival in which participants gave life to an aquatic competition with wooden boats, very similar to those of our local Sun Festival. This proximity led the Sun Festival Committee to contact the Japanese Embassy in Rome, until the official twinning that took place on March 27th 1985. Always related to the Sun Festival is the twinning with another city, Saint-Pierre-lès -Elbeuf, in France.

The Sun Festival competition

The Sun Festival does not consist only of a single event, but includes a series of events that culminate in the final afternoon with the water games on the Velino River. River races include:

Pole Duel
The representatives of two districts face off using poles, padded at the ends, balanced on a walkway floating on the water, in order to make the opponent fall into the river. If they both fall, the loser is the one who first touches the water.


Water bike ride
Equipped with floats and paddles instead of wheels, the water bicycles, driven by a representative for each participating district, run along the river, in the direction of the river flow and then against the current.


Race of the river boats
Considered one of the most difficult competitions of the Sun Festival due to the uncomfortable position to take, here two competitors per district, each equipped with a wooden oar, push a small wooden boat along the river, first in the direction of the river flow and then in the opposite direction.


Palio della Tinozza
The most awaited competition of the event, the Palio della Tinozza sees a representative for each district travel a distance of about 800 meters seated inside a tub, pushing himself with the help of a single wooden oar. The strength of the river current and the balance are the most obvious difficulties of this type of competition.

Each competition assigns points and, at the end of the event, the winner will be given the official Sun Festival banner and the Palio, painted by a local artist.

For more information on the current edition: