Buongiorno tutti! Saturday was the day of the Giostra del Saracino, a jousting tournament that has been held in Arezzo for centuries. And it was super cool!!

So yes, the joust. The joust has been a thing in Arezzo possibly as early as the 13th century, and was definitely around by the 14th century. In fact, Dante mentioned it in his Divine Comedy.

La Giostra del Saracino!

Unfortunately, as time went on it became less popular, and by the 18th century it was no longer in practice in its original form. But in 1931, the town of Arezzo decided to restart the tradition in a mock form, using dummies instead of actual opponents.

It's a dummy!

Now the town of Arezzo is divided up into four quartiere, or neighborhoods; Santo Spirito, San Andrea, del Foro, and Crucifera. Each quartiere has two jousters who each get one run at the dummy. They measure points by how well the jouster hits the target, which has points from 1 to 5. It looks like this.

Upper right side.

If the jousters drops his lance, he gets 0 points. If he gets hit by the mace the dummy is holding, they lose 1 point off their original hit. If they break their lance, they get double points. Once the jouster hits the target, it is immediately taken down so that no one can see it and the judges can look at it and decided what the score should be. The winner gains the coveted prize, the golden lance.

So the first thing that happened was a cannon going off at 7 this morning. We didn’t wake up, but it was on the schedule, so I assume it happened. But we were awake for the 11 o’clock parade. Our room at the hotel is on the first floor with a balcony terrace facing the road, so we had a perfect view.

Working the feather hat.

Banners of the different quartiere.

Totally legit drummers.

After that, we basically lazed around all day in preparation for the actual joust at night. So we ate some dinner (Cheeseburger!) and headed over to the Center to meet up with the rest of the OU students. And then there happened to be another parade!

The handcrafted golden lance.

San Andrea archers.

Flag bearer. No shame.

Super awesome page girl from Santo Spirito.

Following that, we grabbed our tickets and headed over to the Piazza Grande, where they had set up this huge stadium-thing for the joust.

It was big...

...very big.

They started off with the entrance of the drums and trumpets…

Very talented.

…followed by the ‘court’…

They're all teenagers!

…followed by the judges.

Who wore creepy robes.

To shake things up, they then brought in the acrobatic flag bearers. They were super awesome with their doing backflips over flags and stuff. Just look.

Under the legs!

Off the flagstaffs!

And TADA!!!

Then came the colorful flag bearers, and let me tell you, band color guards have nothing on these guys. They were a’tossin’. And a’twirlin’. Good times.

Ready...Set...

Go!!

It's like a rainbow!

After the flag bearers did their thing, the ‘announcer’ read off the poem that speaks of the great battle between the Saracens and the Aretini. I didn’t understand it, but the people in the audience all yelled out the same things at the same times during his speech, so I assume they knew it really well. And then it was finally time for the joust to begin!

Go, Horsie, Go!!

The first jouster was from San Andrea and though I couldn’t see what he hit in time, I assumed it was very good from the team, who broke into hysterics and threw themselves at each in joy. And then immediately got into a fistfight with a different team.

Yes, the police got involved.

Each subsequent team went, reacting with joy or despair appropriately. In the first round there were two dropped lances by del Foro and Crucifera, leading to large amounts of angst. San Andrea got a 5 and Santo Spirito got a 4.

After half time, the next jousters from each quartiere went, and though there were no dropped lances, there were some not-so-hot scores. San Andrea went first, gaining 3 more points, which, though respectable, was not enough the guarantee them the victory. del Foro got a disappointing 2 and then Santo Spirito blew away the crowd with a 5! Unless Crucifera broke a lance on the 5 mark, Santo Spirito was assured victory.

And indeed, victory was theirs! Crucifera ended the joust with a 4, leading to Santo Spirito being declared the winner of this joust!

After the screaming and crying at the stadium, the winning quartiere walked over to the Duomo of Arezzo to be blessed by the Archbishop. I imagine this is what churches were like back in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. A huge party!

Archbishop!

Drum core on the high altar...umm...

Church is at full capacity!

We then walked back to the hotel, tired yet wired, and ended up asleep by about 2 in the morning. It was definitely one of the coolest experiences that I’ve ever had, and something that everyone should see at some point in their life.

Interesting Stories of the Day:

  • Instead of going to Ristoburger, we were originally going to try to go to DLF, this cafeteria buffet type of place. The map said it was by the train station and so we walked over there. And found a parking lot. With abandoned warehouses. We decided to leave.
  • The little page boy for del Foro kept playing air drums when the drum core would play, which was absolutely adorable. I’m sure he’ll grow up to do that in the later jousts.

Drummer in training!

  • There was also a soccer game going on at the same time, so people had to choose what they wanted to watch. Unless you were these guys. Then you just watched both.

 

...so not fair.

A dopo!!

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