Arezzo and the Joust of Saracino



When the game gets tough thetough ones take their lancets. Every town in Tuscany, from the smallest to the biggest, boastsits own joust, palio or game of skill. Since every town in Tuscany, be it smallor be it big, can boast antique roots and princely pasts it’s easy tounderstand that if you put the two together, you will have historicalcommemorations, often in costumes, culminating in some sort of game of skill.

 

The Joust of Saracino ofArezzo has never really been a “game”. We don’t exactly know the origins ofthis tournament but it was probably a physical and technical exercise toimprove the skills of the knights of the town of Arezzo who had to fight back the Saracenplunderers. In those periods, the pirates of the time didn’t hesitate to pushthemselves deep into the country. Just to add a little bit of a lurid detailthe effigy called “Buratto” or the Prince of the Indies that has to be hit, isdressed and made to look like a Moorish figure.

 

There are two annual eventsof this important tournament that take place in “piazza Grande”, the main square of Arezzo: the first one is on the secondlast Saturday of June,

The Joust of San Donato, andit’s held at night, while the second one is on the first Sunday of September inthe day time. Each of the four districts of the town(Porta delForo, Porta Crucifera, Porta Sant’Andrea e Porta Santo Spirito) is representedby a knight who has to hit a figurative enemy placed on the shield of the“Buratto” . The blow is given after a fast run on horseback, trying to avoidbeing hit back by the flail attached to the “Buratto” itself and activated by aspring.
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