Held annually on May 15, this age-old event is thought to have been introduced in honour of Saint Ubaldo, Gubbio’s patron saint.
The tradition is held on the eve of Saint Ubaldo’s feast day; when he died on May 16, 1160, Gubbio locals made a candlelit pilgrimage in his honour.
The festivities feature three tall – and extremely heavy – wooden artefacts which resemble candles.
On top of the ceri, or candles, sit the statues of three saints: Saint Ubaldo, Saint Giorgio and Saint Antonio Abate.
On the day, around 100,000 people flock to the heart of Gubbio to witness a miraculous series of events.
The city’s main square becomes an ocean of colours, as devotees dress in the colours of the saints: yellow for the Saint Ubaldo, blue for Saint Giorgio and black for Saint Antonio.
Each and every street becomes decorated with flags and banners representing the saints.
The day begins with the alzata, or raising, of the ceri at midday, before the saints are carried around Piazza Grande three times.
Saint Ubaldo is then paraded around the city streets, before the bishop blesses the ceri.
Later in the afternoon, spectators crowd around for the highlight of the day: La Corsa dei Ceri, or the Race of Candles.
A major test of strength, endurance and devotion, the race requires ceraioli, or pedestal bearers, to carry the ceri, which weigh around 400 kilograms each, along a four-kilometre uphill path from the city streets to the Basilica of Saint Ubaldo, which is perched atop Mount Ingino.
Spoiler alert: Saint Ubaldo always wins.
When the saints reach the top of the mountain, Saint Ubaldo’s ceraioli rush to close the basilica doors before the other saints can enter.
After the climactic race, the ceri are then housed in the Basilica of Saint Ubaldo, while the statues of the saints are carried back to the city centre accompanied by a candlelit procession.
While the excitement may be over for the day, it won't be long until the statues come out to race again.