Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ducat Replaces Euro in Puglia

Celenza Valforte, Puglia celebrated today The Ducat, Europe's common currency for close to one thousand years up until World War I.

The euro is being temporarily shelved for one day, with stalls, bars and restaurants accepting only the ducat as Celenza Valforte residents celebrate their past. Visitors to the town will be able to exchange their euros to ducats at one of the town's five medieval gates, three of which have been specially reconstructed for the event.

The initiative is part of a daylong event exploring the history of the town that aims to transport residents and visitors into a different world. Although people have lived in the area since prehistoric times, the town's current layout dates back to the Middle Ages. The celebrations encompass the many changes it has gone through since then: its years under Spanish domination in the 1500s, as part of the Austrian Empire in the 1700s and later under French rule towards the end of the 18th century, and eventually under the Bourbons in the 1800s. The monuments and architecture of the various eras are spotlighted in tours of the town and the coins are part of a broader initiative to recreate life as it was.

All the shops are closed for the day and the electric lighting around the town switched off, with the historic centre illuminated by burning torches when evening arrives. Over 100 of the town's residents have been officially tasked with helping recreate a historic atmosphere kitted out as knights, ladies, soldiers, brigands and traders, while medieval guards welcome new arrivals at the gates. From early evening, street artists, jugglers, fire-eaters, troubadours and jongleurs will wander the streets, while Medieval and Renaissance songs and music will be performed in different parts of the town.

The streets of Celenza Valfortore have been decked out in banners and heraldic signs of its various rulers from past centuries. The ducat, which was issued in both gold and silver, was Europe's common trade currency for centuries until World War I.

It is thought to have been minted for the first time in 1140 under Roger II of Sicily and soon spread across Europe, particularly after receiving official sanction in the mid-1500s.

The Celenza Valforte celebrations, Vivi Il Borgo! (Long Live The Town!), are an annual event but this is the first year the ducat has been used as currency.

For more about Puglia visit Puglia travel television channel.

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