The Joust of the Saracen (Giostra del Saracino) is a famous mediaeval costume festival held twice a year in Arezzo, Tuscany. In this joust, knights on horseback, representing different areas of the town, charge at a wooden target attached to a buratto, a revolving carving of the Saracen king. Like the other festivals of Tuscany, the entertainment value, costumes and skills get better year by year. These are real folk festivals engaging much of the population of the towns where they take place, and the Joust of the Saracen is one of the best.
The protagonists of the event are the four quarters of the town of Arezzo:
- Porta Crucifera known as Culcitrone (green and red colors)
- Porta del Foro known as Porta San Lorentino (yellow and crimson colors)
- Porta Sant’Andrea (white and green colors)
- Porta del Borgo, today called Porta Santo Spirito (yellow and blue colors)
The jousting day starts in the morning, when the town’s Herald reads the proclamation of the joust challenge, and then continues with a colorful procession of 350 costumed individuals and 27 horses parading along the streets of Arezzo. The high point of the parade is the blessing of the men-at-arms, which takes place on the steps of the Duomo and is carried out by the Bishop of Arezzo.
The joust takes place twice a year on the penultimate Saturday in June and first Sunday in September, with related events on the days around these dates. If you’re in the area at the time, try not to miss this festival. Tickets are required for the actual joust but of course not for the processions.
More about the Joust of the Saracen (Giostra del Saracino)