One of the craziest summer entertainments in our area is the rodeo that’s held in Sesta Godano. Rodeos are surprisingly popular in Italy; there’s also one just south of Milan which is a theatrical, year-round fabrication of the American Wild West. A little like Disney creating reproductions of European castles in Florida, only not quite as expertly done. The ‘Indian’ who rides around a crazed gallop while scooping scalps off the ground, for example, is easily identified as an Italian with a wig who has fallen into a bottle of self-tanner. But that doesn’t stop the audience from screaming with delight at his performance.
The Sesta Godano show is more impressive. American-style cowboys come from all over Italy to compete. While it can’t hold a candle to the level of expertise shown at, say, the Calgary Stampede, it at least boasts competitive roping teams, barrel racers and other serious practitioners of Western riding.
What I always marvel at is how this particular group of Italians are so enamoured of our North American heritage, when we’re so enamoured of theirs. Italians have their own cowboys, the butteri of Maremma in Tuscany, and they are no slouches when it comes to handling horses or cattle. But just as the spaghetti western filmakers found something highly compelling about the Wild West, the romance for that culture across the pond endures.