Giostra del Saracino (Saracen Joust) is one of the most important historical reenactment festivals in Italy, held twice a year in Arezzo.
The festival takes place on 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 on the first Sunday of September, during the day, dedicated to Our Lady of Comfort, protector of Arezzo, under the name of Giostra della Madonna del Conforto.
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 oldest information about a knightly tournament held in Arezzo dates back to 1260, when, in Piazza Grande, it was celebrated the investiture of a knight of the order of the Golden Spur.
Later, in 1331, two letters sent by the Tarlati, Lords of Arezzo, 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 1492, held on the day of the patron saint of the city.
The Joust was later consecrated in the Renaissance era. On 6 August 1535, 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 2019, held in honour of Our Lady of Comfort, will take place on September 1, 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.