The city of Florence has, within in its boundaries, a fine racecourse at Le Cascine, locally known as “Ippodromo del Visarno”, where horse racing has taken place since the early 1800s. Situated just over 3km from the city centre, and with a backdrop of the Florence skyline the racecourse has regular meetings whilst also offering stables and training for the equine industry.
Each year on the 25th of April, Liberation Day and a national holiday in the Italian calendar, the most coveted meeting takes place, when horse racing enthusiasts and local families arrive for a special day out. Celebrating its 191st edition in 2018 the race is an institutional event attracting the high society of Florence.
For the last four years, taking a lead from Royal Ascot, the Headwear Consortium of Florence has held a small hat contest, presenting prizes for elegance and creativity, to showcase millinery craft and encourage the wearing of beautiful hats. They also take space at the entrance of the racecourse offering for sale their own hats, all made in local factories, to those un-hatted ladies wanting to take part in the competition, with the proceeds going to a local cancer charity.
We were invited this year as part of the judging panel, and of course I wore my headpiece of two gelato cones, made by Awon Golding!
There were more entrants than we expected competing for the four separate categories:
Elegance, Creativity, Young (under 12) and Students. The first two awards were for ladies and gentlemen at the racecourse, wearing their finest attire. The second two were for children and students, and were designed and made before the day, therefore including rather more individual creativity.
Following the last race, the prize winners were announced, and in true Italian style, a generous offering of wine and food was presented for all those who took part. It was an amazing day out!!