The piazza grande in Arezzo (see ppl94-5) is the scene of the Giostra del Saracino, or Joust of the Saracen. Held on the first Sunday in September, this tournament dates back to the Crusades in the Middle Ages, when all Christendom dedicated itself to driving the North African Arabs (the Moors) out of Europe.
There are lively and colourful processions to precede the event, in which eight costumed knights charge towards a wooden effigy of the Saracen. The aim is to try to hit the Saracen’s shield with lances and then avoid a cat-of-three-tails swinging back and unseating them. Each pair of knights represents one of Arezzo’s four rival contrade (districts), and their supporters occupy a side each of Piazza Grande. They are quiet when
their own contrada knights are jousting, but make as much noise as is possible to distract the opposition. The winner receives a gold lance.
Eastern Tuscany map Photo Gallery