Summertime in Tuscany is really exciting, full of all types of festivals and events. I would like to dedicate this post to list some of the many Medieval Festivals taking place this time of the year, as when you schedule your bucket list trip in July and August, you can include participation in one of these really worthy experiences!
You’re still in time to come for some events or you can have them in mind for next year! Enjoy it!
Festa di San Giovanni
Where? Firenze – When? June 24th
On Saint John’s Day, the Patron of Florence, Tuscany’s capital offers a big party with many activities: religious celebrations followed by the medieval recalling of the Calcio Storico Fiorentino (the historical soccer). In the evening, music concerts and to end up the festival, the Fuochi di San Giovanni, traditional fireworks show.
Gioco del Ponte
Where? Pisa – When? On June (last Sunday of the month)
Gioco del Ponte closes the list of events of the “Giugno Pisano”. The origins of this joust date back from the Classical Antiquity. It consists in a game which simulates a battle between two rival parts of the city – Mezzogiorno and Tramontana. The battle takes place in Ponte di Mezzo, the main bridge over the river Arno. There is a huge cart on a sliding rail in the center of the bridge and two teams of 20 men each, positioned one in the opposite side to the other. The aim is to push the cart as to conquer more than a half of the bridge. The winner is the team which conquers more numbers of matches. The joust is preceded by a historical parade along the river simulating a military procession.
Giostra del Saracino
Where? Arezzo – When? Twice a year, on June and September
The Saracen Joust has its origins in the Middle Ages, when the Christian word “saracen” was used to mention the enemies arabs of that time. The medieval tournaments were useful to keep soldiers trained during periods of peace. Arezzo’s Joust takes place on the last Saturday of June and the first Sunday of September of each year. This period embraces the day of San Donatus, the Patron of Arezzo (August 7th). The Giostra is preceded by many trials some days before and by a historical parade just before the performance, which simulates a knights battle against the Saracen. This one, also called “buratto”, is a puppet which represents the king of Indies. The knight on his horse must hit the Saracen’s shield on the target with his lance. There are 4 teams who challenge each other and the winner receives the prize: the Golden Lance.
Monteriggioni di Torri si Corona
Where? Monteriggioni (SI) – When? July (1st and 2nd weekend)
Great medieval festival, certainly one of the most significant of the Tuscan history recallings. The whole town is organized as a real medieval setting and visitors can make a full immersion in the past. There are many activities during the day you can participate like theater, textile and paper workshops. Besides, there are jugglers and celtic and medieval music shows to end up with a medieval dinner: ancient recipes, terracotta glasses and dishes, wooden spoons and local hosts serving like a real locanda.
Palio di Siena
Where? Siena – When? Twice a year, on July 2nd and on Aug 16th
Historical horse race which takes place twice a year in the main square of Siena, Piazza del Campo. Preceded by many trials in different days, “contrada” parties and historic parades. After the race, the winner gives a big party distributing wine to everyone.
Where? Certaldo (FI) – When? July (usually during the 2nd week of the month from Wednesday to Sunday)
Mercantia is the International Festival of Street Theater that has been taking place at Certaldo Alto for the last 20 years. It is a modern idea to represent antique art, culture and folklore. It is a mix of performances which involves circus, dance, comic, theater, puppeteers, storytellers, waders, mimes, jugglers and much more.
Where? Pistoia – When? July 25th
This joust is the Palio of Pistoia, a medieval festival in honor of San James, the Patron of Pistoia, which involves two different events: the horse race in honor of the Saint, called Palio and the joust match against the bear (which is actually a target shaped like a bear that must be striked by the knights on their horses). It seems that at that time bears were abundant in this area. The performance of nowadays is no longer a race but only the match executed by 4 teams, each one with 3 knights. The winner receives the Palio, a painted cloth just like the Siena Palio.
Volterra AD 1398
Where? Volterra (PI) – When? Aug (3rd and 4th Sunday of the month)
Medieval Pageantry of Volterra, similar to the one of Monteriggioni, when the city is animated by all kinds of characters of the Middle Ages like merchants, artisans, warhorses, knights, nobleman, ladies, musicians, jesters, flag wavers, crossbowmen soldiers. All streets and squares of the city are replenished by the medieval atmosphere. At the Archaeological Park below the Fortress, the simulation of a military camp with the representation of war machines, duels, soldiers and knights.
Tempora Artis Magica
Where? Montieri (GR) – When? On August 6th and 7th
Medieval recall just like the one of Monteriggioni and Volterra, when this small village hidden in the Maremma’s woods is all transformed in a medieval setting with all characters: artisans, merchants, jugglers and jesters, nobleman and ladies. There is an exihibition of medieval torture instruments. In the evening, a medieval appetizer in the theater’s old cellars followed by dinner in the castle. After that, a performance of jugglers and fire breathing show. The day after there is the simulation of a witch maleficium process, Donna Caterina, the witch of Vallebuja. In the afternoon, many shows of flag wavers, crossbowmen and dance followed by the dinner in the castle based on recipes from the Middle Ages.
Where? Pontremoli (MS) – When? On August (3rd weekend of the month, from Thursday to Sunday)
The medieval festival of Pontremoli recalls the year 1226 when the king Federico II has recognized this village as a Comune (a municipality). Along the streets and squares of the castle of this charming village set among the mountains of Massa-Carrara, visitors will get immersed in a medieval setting with all realistic representations just like the ones of Monteriggioni and Volterra. For 4 days, the party includes simulation of a real life of a village in the Middle Ages. In the evening, you can enjoy the Medieval dinner prepared by locals with antique recipes and local vegetables and herbs found here at that time.