Sunday, June 20, 2010

Arezzo & Giostra del Saracino

Going back to Medieval times, the Giostra del Saracino (Joust of the Saracen) originally provided military training exercises wherein enemy confrontation was simulated. Now, in Arezzo, it's a great event, held twice each year, involving most of the population of this georgeous Tuscan city.

As we wandered around the town in the afternoon we found skilled flag throwers practising their craft in Piazza Grande in preparation for the evening tornament. Despite the light rain, temporary stalls were selling huge stocks of multicoloured wares for the loyal followers - and a few travellers. Depending on which quarter of the city you support, you can buy flags, scarves, or drums in blue and yellow, green and white, scarlet and navy, or maroon and orange.

Around 8.30pm the corteo storico entered the cordoned off Piazza: a long parade of real and acting VIPs, musicians, flag throwers and finally, amid shouts, squeals and drum rolls , the marching warriors. All brilliantly dressed in traditional Medieval costume.