1848. At Castellaro, a village near Mantua, Basilio Cremonesi, landowner, tenant farmer and patriot, starts a political fight against the pro-Austrian mayor. Cremonesi, a democrat, tries to win the peasants’s support by offering them a banquet on Ash Wednesday. After Italy’s unification, the members of the democratic party at Castellaro set up a new festival, allegedly related to Cremonesi’s exploits. But the transformations the festival underwent in the 70’s and 80’s show that the event’s memory transmitted to the village comunity had a twofold implication. According to the moderates, the festival implied a message of social progress based on class harmony; according to the radicals, in the long run the festival legitimized peasants’ unrest and even rebellion.