Fiera Cavalli & Jumping Verona
It’s no surprise Shakespeare set his tragic love story, Romeo & Juliet, in the city of Verona, Italy. Verona is on the Adige River and is the third largest city in Northern Italy. The complex blend of urban architecture and historic landmarks (such as my favorite, the Arena Di Verona which once sat 30,000 people and still holds concerts and events with up to 15,000 people), is what makes Verona feel so extraordinary. I traveled to Verona with my forever horse show partner in crime, my mom. As we sat jet-lagged in a café that overlooked the Arena Di Verona, drinking Aperol spritzes as we watched the sun go down, I knew our trip to Verona was going to be a wonderful experience.
Horse & Style was invited to Italy to attend the Fiera Cavalli, a weeklong expo that celebrates everything equestrian. 2018 was the 120th anniversary of this extraordinary event. The Fiera Cavalli has 12 exhibition halls, each displaying a different equestrian theme. There was a hall for equestrian tourism, a hall for Italian bred horses, a hall for western culture (which included daily line dancing), a hall for children, and many more. My favorite hall was the one that featured all the Italian equestrian brands, the Jumping Verona, and the CSI 5* competition that took place during the Fiera Cavalli.
Stitched in Italy
Italians are known for their hospitality, great food, and exquisite leather and clothing craftsmanship. “Made in Italy” has merit that extends beyond the fashion industry. The Italian equestrian luxury brands are crafted with excellent products and attention to detail. Fortunately, the shopping was easy to come by! The Jumping Verona warm-up ring was surrounded by some of the best equestrian brands including Pariani, KASK, and Cavalerria Toscana, making shopping at the show a breeze. There was also a ringside restaurant that served Italian cuisine, desserts, and of course, Aperol spritzes (which were quickly becoming my new favorite drink). Is there anything more fabulous than shopping your favorite Italian brands, eating Italian food, and watching the best riders in the world warm-up?
To celebrate the 120th Anniversary of the Fiera Cavalli, the show organizers put on a spectacular evening celebrating the history of the horse. The audience delighted in the show that presented carousels, dressage, free-rein performances, a saddleback acrobatics troupe, and more. Combined with music and dance, each performance was more thrilling than the one before it. There were many great performances, but my favorite of the evening, as always, was the free-rein performance. The connection between the human and horse without a bridle is always mesmerizing.
The top riders in the world showed up to compete in the FEI World Cup™ qualifier at Jumping Verona. The crowd was energetic and supportive, especially when the Italian riders entered the ring. When an Italian rider, like Eugenia Grimaldi, won a class, the crowd was on their feet, cheering as loud as they could during the awards ceremony. The crowd favorite, Lorenzo De Luca, has always been a favorite rider (and favorite person) of the whole team at Horse & Style. So it was great to be in Verona for his exhilarating win in the Safe Riding 1.45M CSI 5* aboard Evita van’t Zoggehof. I was able to say a personal hello to De Luca, which felt like a huge accomplishment of my own. There were so many adoring fans waiting patiently for autographs and selfies, it made saying hello to De Luca feel like trying to get backstage at a Justin Bieber concert.
The excited crowd fueled the energy on the final day for the FEI World Cup™ qualifier class. With the top three riders from the World Equestrian Games, Simone Blum, Martin Fuchs, and Steve Guerdat, the crowd knew we were all in for some fantastic show jumping. And fantastic it was! 14 clean rounds made for an exciting jump-off, and an incredibly thrilling end to the week. One by one each rider rode, some beating the time of the person before them, but like many classes before, it all came down to Deusser. And like many classes before, Deusser delivered. He and Calisto Blue topped the 14 horse jump-off with a blazing time of 35.83 seconds. While the crowd may have wanted an Italian to win that day, after the ride Deusser delivered, they all instantly became German fans.
Even though Shakespeare’s love story ended tragically, our time in Verona was anything but tragic. In fact, it was magical. As an American, it never ceases to amaze me how you can be watching the top riders in the world compete at a 5* horse show, and an hour later be walking through some of the most historical monuments in that country’s history. I absolutely plan to come back to the Fiera Cavalli and Jumping Verona, to shop, watch the show, and for one more Aperol spritz!