THE SARACINO OF AREZZO, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL MEDIEVAL JOUST OF ITALY
“ Terra d’Arezzo, un cantico salga dal nostro cuore
a te, che luce ai popoli fosti col tuo splendore. “
This is how the quartieristi (people that side for one of the four factions of the city) of Arezzo sing in the days of the Saracino, accompanied by the sound of the clarions, hinting at the greatness that this city has had in history, while they await with trepidation that the Araldo (Herald) will kick off the joust and let the knights descend into the field.
This historical re-enactment, which has its roots in the Middle Ages, has come with some interruptions up to the present day; today the Saracino is a feast of the people of Arezzo, which awaits it throughout the year, and around which the life of the city revolves a little.
This wonderful knightly tournament is staged in the main square of the city, twice a year, in June, in a suggestive night edition and in September, in daylight.
There are musicians and knights, archers and warriors who in historical clothes revive whoever watches them an ancient time, and the inevitable flag-wavers of Arezzo, famous all over the world for the richness and complexity of the repertoire that show in their performances, a combination of style, elegance, respect for tradition and lightness of movement.
After the historical parade along the streets of the city, the participants meet in Piazza Vasari (called by the citizen Piazza Grande) and at the end of the deployment of the armed ones the Araldo (Herald) recites, in a very emphatic way, the Disfida di Buratto (Challenge of Buratto), a real declaration of war, very exciting, in the religious silence of the packed square: this is the moment when the Joust begins and trepidation increases inexorably.
At this point the knights of the four quarters into which the city is divided are ready to challenge the King of the Indies, represented by the Buratto, hitting him on his shield and trying to mark the highest score in order to win the competition.
Each Quarters has two Knights available who will gallop each in a race (“carriera“), keeping the lance as steady as possible, discharging all their strength against the Saracen enemy by riding and hitting them with the utmost precision…the tension in the square is palpable, the opposing Quarters try to irritate with screams and whistling horse and knight, in the hope of disturbing his career.
In the moments in which the judging body decides what the score is marked by the knight, the quartieristi are tense, worried, hopeful … these are interminable moments full of pathos, those who have just run their carriera expect a great result, the opposing quartieristi hope for a low score.
It goes on like this, between moments of tension, happiness and sometimes disappointment, until the end of the carousel, until all the eight knights have run their race and challenged the Buratto; finally the Araldo will announce the winner of the Giostra and the Lancia d’Oro will be delivered in the hands of the winner Quarter in total triumph, between the disappointment of the other three factions.
The Lancia d’Oro is precisely the coveted Giostra del Saracino trophy, made with precise measurements in maple, walnut or linden wood, which for decades has been made by the master carver from Arezzo, Francesco Conti.
For the next edition on September 2nd, the Lancia was dedicated to Leonardo Da Vinci and for this occasion, for its realization, it also saw the great Mimmo Paladino, one of the main contemporary artists, work with Conti, moreover, his exhibition that is dedicated to Piero Della Francesca will be in Arezzo until 31 January 2020.
Conti represented Leonardo in the geometric lines that are found in the various points of the wooden part of the lance, on the front he then created a low relief that depicts the face of the genius of the Renaissance, and he inserted, finally, the bronze elements of Paladino. This is, according to the master carver, the Lancia d’Oro that has been the most difficult to make.
To whom will be destined this marvelous work, which combines tradition and modernity, bear the signature of such a great artist? Who will mark the highest scores and can hold it in their hands?
To experience this emotion, do not miss the amazing and unique knightly carousel that will take you back in time, as in an imaginary journey that will be able to make you live for a day in an ancient world, made up of musicians and knights, noble families and galloping challenges, as Dante tells us in his XXII Canto dell’Inferno in his Divina Commedia.
“..corridor vidi per la terra vostra,
o Aretini, e vidi gir gualdane,
fedir torneamenti e correr giostra..”