Giostra del Saracino (Saracen Joust) is an important and famous centuries-old tradition with medieval origins that takes place twice a year in the city of Arezzo.
The four Quarters of the city, which compete in the tournament, are the Porta Crucifera District, known also as Colcitrone, the Porta del Foro District, also known as the Porta San Lorentino, the District of Porta Sant’Andrea and the District of Porta Santo Spirito, also known as Quartiere della Colombina.
The Giostra del Saracino is held in Piazza Grande twice a year, in the penultimate Saturday in June, during the evening, dedicated to San Donato, patron saint of Arezzo, under the name of Giostra di San Donato, and in the first Sunday of September, during the day, dedicated to the sacred image of Our Lady of Comfort, protector of Arezzo, under the name of Giostra della Madonna del Conforto.
The oldest evidence of a knightly tournament held in Piazza Grande dates back to 1260, when the investiture of a knight of the order of the Golden Spur was celebrated.
Subsequently, two letters sent by the Tarlati, Lords of Arezzo, in 1331, mention tournaments with spears held in the city, to celebrate the success of a diplomatic mission in France.
At the end of the 15th century, two tournaments are also mentioned, in 1491 and 1942, held on the day of the patron saint of the city.
The Renaissance is the era when this kind of tournaments were consecrated. On 6 August 1535, the Arezzo authorities decided to held a joust on the occasion of the feast of San Donato.
The tournament was regularly held in Arezzo between the 16th century and the end of the 17th century, after which the tradition declined progressively during the 18th century.
Today, Giostra del Saracino is disputed in medieval costumes from the 14th century, in memory of the magnificent times of the free commune of Arezzo.
GIOSTRA DELLA MADONNA DEL CONFORTO 2018, held in honour of Our Lady of Comfort, will take place on September 2, in Piazza Grande, after the following schedule:
- 7.00 am – First cannon salute;
- 10.30 am – Departure of the Municipal Foot Soldiers and Valets from the Duomo of Arezzo;
- 11.00 am – Second cannon salute; The Joust Procession, with 350 costumed musicians, flag bearers, participants and horses, begins;
- 2.00 pm – Third cannon salute; The blessing of the knights;
- 2.30 pm – Parade Assembly in Saint Domenico Square;
- 3.00 pm – Fourth cannon salute;
- 3.15 pm – Blessing of the teams by the Bishop of Arezzo;
- 3.30 pm – Grand parade through the town’s historical center, ending in Piazza Grande;
- 5.00 pm – Fifth cannon salute; The Joust begins.