Tag Archives: Medieval Festival

Medieval Jousters on Horses in Cortona

22 Oct

For days, we had heard that the horses were coming, yet no one I spoke with knew why. Today, as with many days in Cortona, we were surprised and delighted with a colorful Medieval spectacle.

As overheard in the piazza, the nearby city of Arezzo has been highly victorious in jousting competitions this year. They came to Cortona today, dressed in their finest and with their victors high on horseback, to give thanks to their patron saint, Margherita. One of the participants told me this was a festival of adoration to their patron saint in appreciation for their success this year.

From our house, I heard the drummers and arrived just in time to see them enter the piazza from Via Roma.

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A few minutes later, the horses and jousters appeared in full matching Medieval regalia.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Once the horses took their places,

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the flag wavers entered and all watched as they performed.

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In Italy, flag waving and throwing is a skill learned by the young and perfected over many years. It is an important part of many of the Medieval festivals and ceremonies, and one that requires years of practice.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

When the performance was finished, they joined the dignitaries on the grand steps of the Municipio for the speeches of gratitude.

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Following the ceremony in the piazza, the parade moved down Via Nazionale, the main and only flat street of Cortona.

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Their ultimate destination was the beautiful Santa Margherita Church at the top of Cortona –

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where the saint lies in glass at the foot of the altar.

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In towns and cities all over Italy, ancient customs live on in the hearts, minds and practices of the people who received them from their ancestors and pass them on to future generations. It’s easy to get caught up in the pageantry and imagine days gone by. No matter how often I see one of these, it’s always quite a spectacle to behold.

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Ciao,
Judy

Note: Click on any picture to enlarge.

 

 

The Wedding and Crossbow Competition: Cortona Giostra

11 Jun

The Wedding

On the last Saturday night of the Giostra, the Cortonese recreate the 1397 wedding of Francesco Casali of Cortona and Antonia Salimbeni of Siena. For 10euro/person, you can buy a seat in the stands, which we thankfully did as the event lasted for several hours. The costumes of the different regions were beautifully displayed as the royalty from each area was presented.

Bride and groom

The ceremony

Some of the entertainment

                                                                         

The Crossbow Competition

On Sunday, the final day of Giostra, the festival celebrates the previous night’s marriage with a crossbow competition. Practice begins at 11 AM, but the actual competition, in full costume, begins at 4PM. Once again, the pageantry is extensive, with a parade of important people from each area of Cortona, as well as the drummers, buglers, flag throwers, etc.

                                     

There are five quintiere, or areas of Cortona, and each is represented by specific symbols and colors in the competition. Our house is in the S. Andrea quintiere, so our colors are green and yellow. Each team consists of a Maestro di Campo, or Field Master, and two Balestrieri, or dart shooters. The competition lasts four rounds. Amazingly, the Maestro from our area was none other than our neighbor, Vincenzo, the one who skillfully parks the too big car in the too small garage. He chooses an arrow from a trunk, and he and the shooter ascend the platform. After the Balestrieri carefully sets the crossbow, the arrow is put in place by the Maestro, and amid a hushed crowd, the arrow is shot at a target about 20 meters, or almost 66 feet  away.

Our Neighbor Maestro Vincenzo and the Balestrieri

Judges and other officials after each round

After each round, the judges move in to calculate the results. Points are awarded for each round, and with significant drum roll, they are announced and posted.

This year, two teams tied, so they alone competed in a fifth round. And guess what? S. Andrea won! Must be all that close call parking that makes Vincenzo such a great Maestro! The winner receives a golden arrow, or verretta, then all involved parade through the city.

Golden Arrow

The Winning Quintiere

The Giostra dell’Archidado…and experience we will long remember. Thanks, Cortona!

Ciao,

Judy

Giostra dell’ Archidado 2012

10 Jun

This year, we are so fortunate to be in Cortona during the Joust of the Archidado, an annual celebration with events spread over 10 days. I have included a description below from a Cortona website:

“This costume festival re-enacts the wedding of Francesco Casali, lord of Cortona, to Antonia Salimbeni from Sienna, in 1397. To commemorate the couple, the crossbowmen of Cortona’s five ‘quintieri’ or districts compete in a crossbow (ballestero) competition, aiming at a target called ‘quintiere’. The winner is given the first prize, the Verretta d’Oro (golden crossbow dart). The event includes stalls selling mediaeval food, mediaeval dinners and entertainment typical of the mediaeval times. This costume festival re-enacts the wedding of Francesco Casali, lord of Cortona, to Antonia Salimbeni from Sienna, in 1397. To commemorate the couple, the crossbowmen of Cortona’s five ‘quintieri’ or districts compete in a crossbow (ballestero) competition, aiming at a target called ‘quintiere’. The winner is given the first prize, the Verretta d’Oro (golden crossbow dart). The event includes stalls selling mediaeval food, mediaeval dinners and entertainment typical of the mediaeval times.” Cortona © ammonet InfoTech 1998 – 2012.

That’s metal, not silk!!!

Bread making

Every part of the festival is a cultural tribute to the past and reenacted with great pomp and circumstance by present-day Cortonese. Two upcoming events, the wedding and the crossbow competition, each deserve their own post.

So far, we have attended the medieval market, seen flag throwers and fire eaters, and enjoyed the local musicians and locals  dressed in medieval costumes. We bought the most amazing cheeses at the market, tried to master the bow and arrow, and watched in awe as the jesters, drummers, flag throwers and fires eaters skillfully performed.

Parmigiano!

A few amateurs got into the act as well!

                                                                                                     

                                                                                                     

The Pros!

Unlike any circus or Renaissance fair atmosphere, we feel privileged to be among the locals as they celebrate the history and legacies of their ancestors.

All in a day in Cortona!

Ciao,

Judy

nut cracker

Falcons

                          

                                                                                                     

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