Italy’s Giostra del Saracino – Bringing History to Life

Europe - Editor - 06 August 2007

Italy’s Giostra del Saracino – Bringing History to Life

If the idea of taking a walk through the halls of time to a period when knights sat astride noble horses as they competed in jousting tournaments appeals to you, then you simply have to get down to Arezzo during the month of September for the annual Giostra del Saracino festival in Italy.

The Italian city of Arezzo provides the perfect setting for this great annual event. The town itself, located in Tuscany, is incredibly old and continues to maintain a strong medieval feel despite the addition of more modern structures over the years. There are striking fortresses, cathedrals and fortifications which help to transport visitors back in time in this amazing town. Hence, it is as if history comes alive during the Giostra del Saracino or ‘Joust of the Saracen’ festival. The entire town dresses in medieval clothing in support of this colorful event and the result is simply spectacular!

The Piazza Grande is the setting of this magnificent annual event which dates back to the time of the Crusades in the 13th century. The day starts with a lively and colorful procession, which is enjoyed by most of the town’s people who march into the area in support of their relative knight. In the midst of it all, there are eight costumed knights – each of whom represents a different district in Arezzo. All eight are rivals and the aim is to defeat the other knights by means of the rider’s skill with the lance. The more traditional aspect of jousting, where one knight jousts against another, has long since been done away with. In order to keep the festivities safe and enjoyable, knights now speed towards an effigy of the Saracen, aiming to hit the Saracen shield with their lances. The knight who scores the most points is the winner and is awarded a golden lance.

The supporters of each knight will scream and shout loudly when the knight’s opponents tilt their lances at the Saracen in an effort to distract them. This all adds to the festivity of the occasion and is part of the fun. So why not join in and stare in awe as the medieval sight of knights in armor astride magnificent horses makes its way through the Piazza Grande in Arezzo, Italy? You’ll find that this event, which takes place on the first Sunday of every September, makes for unforgettable memories.


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