|Flag thrower at a costume festival in Tuscany|
|Giostra dell'Archidado in Cortona|
Nearest to home and during June, we have the famous festival known as the Giostra dell'Archidado (crossbow tournament) in Cortona. This competition commemorates the wedding of Francesco Casali, Lord of Cortona, and the noblewoman Antonia Salimbeni of Sienna, which took place in 1397. In addition to the crossbow competition itself, there's an excellent costume parade and usually a flag throwing exhibition (which featured in the film version of Frances Mayes' book "Under the Tuscan Sun"). This year, the Giostra dell'Archidado takes place on 9 June but there are celebrations on the 1, 2, 7 and 8 June as well.
Arezzo at night on the last but one Saturday of June, and during the day and on the first Sunday of September. This is the famous Giostra del Saracino (Joust of the Saracen), a jousting tournament that has its origins in the early 16th century and commemorates Christian efforts to hold back the Moslem tide in the 14th Century. In the main event, eight costumed knights charge towards a wooden representation of the Saracen, aiming to hit the Saracen's shield with lances. The Saracen is mounted on a swivel so that part of the task of the knight is to avoid being struck back as the Saracen spins round from the force of the blow. The format of the tournament reflects its origins as a military training exercise.
|One of the four floats of La Maggiolata at Lucignana|
La Maggiolata is a flower festival that takes place during the last two Sundays and the preceding Saturday nights of May in Lucignano, a charming village in the Val di Chiana. Four allegorical floats, one for each quarter of the village, are pulled through the town. Between 15,000 - 20,000 flowers are used for each float and the floats are judged at the end of the Maggiolata. The victors are the first to sing and dance. Some of the parade costumes are 12th and 13th century in style while others are traditional European folkloric costumes, especially those of the dancers.
|Giostra dei Bastoni at San Gimignano in June|
In summary, mediaeval and Renaissance costume festivals take place throughout the year in Tuscany, including several within easy reach of Borgo di Vagli. Many of these events are extremely exciting and colourful, and should not be missed if you have the chance to attend.
More about Festivals and other events in Tuscany.
Fulvio Di Rosa
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