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Giostra del Saracino – Joust of the Saracen in Arezzo

One of the Oldest Traditions in Arezzo

2016 is Extra Special

In Honor of the Giubileo, there will be a Giostra on the 27th of August.  CLICK HERE  for more details.

Among the ancient traditions that Tuscans love to celebrate is the Giostra del Saracino, or Joust of the Saracen (Moor) in Arezzo.

The Joust is held twice every year – on the third Saturday in June and on the first Sunday in September in Arezzo's beautiful Piazza Grande. Festivities start a week earlier when the captains take an oath, draw the sequence in which they'll charge and practice throughout the week in the evenings.

The Calendar

Official Website

You can view more details on the program on the official site.

The whole city turns up in medieval costume to recreate the atmosphere of medieval Arezzo as the quarters of the city compete against each other in a joust to win the Golden Lance. Today, there are 8 knights for the 4 quarters (quartieri) of the city - Porta del Foro, San Andrea, Porta Santo Spirito and Porta Crucifera. Each knight gallops on horseback with a wooden lance and aims at the Buratto and its shield. The knight has two runs along the lizza (jousting track) that runs obliquely in Piazza Grande, and is won by the Quarter whose knights obtained the most points. Points are obtained by hitting the target on the shield.

Who is the Adversary?

The event has its origins in the Middle Ages, and it can be considered an evolution of the military training exercises for knights. It was supposed to simulate battle: the knights practiced using their lance on a “puppet” who represented the bad guy. During the time of the Crusades, the bad guy was the Saracens or Moors and thus the tradition began.

The "Buratto" symbolizes the King of the Indies, and he is armed with a shield in the left hand and this is the target which is divided in to 10 blocks where each block cooresponds to a ceratin number of points.  In the right hand there is a “scourge” or whip with three balls attached to the end weighing about 250 grams. This is the only means of defense that the “Buratto” has, and if by chance he gets to use it and actually hits the rider (besides a good bruise) they get points taken off of the total. How do they know if the jouster was hit? The balls at the end of the whip are covered in black powder which will leave a mark on the outfit of the rider.

In Medieval society, jousts and tournaments were the means to celebrate any special event and in Arezzo records indicate this particular one was very popular and repeated on special occasions. The tradition of the joust has appeared and disappeared throughout the centuries but has been occuring twice annually since 1931 (except for the years of World War II).

The Calendar

Ticket Info

For tickets for the seated bleachers, you can reserve by email at giostradelsaracino@comune.arezzo.it or phone at 0575/377462 or 3. You can also wait and just head to Arezzo for standing spots in the main Piazza Grande.

In June, the day of the Joust starts at 7.00 am with the first mortar shot. At 11.00 am, the second one announces the procession of over 300 participants in historical costume. At 7.00 pm, there is the blessing of the jousters and at 8pm the procession goes from the Duomo to Piazza Grande. At 9.30 pm, just before the start of the tournament, there is a flag throwers demonstration, then the procession enters the square and finally the knights.

In September, the same rituals follow but the final tournament takes place a little earlier, at 5pm.

September 2016

Thursday, Sept 1 (4:15 pm to 7:30 pm)

Trail run for the Jousters

Friday, Sept 2 (5 pm to 7 pm)

Trail run for the Jousters

Friday, Sept 2 (starting at 9:30 pm)

General Trail Run

Saturday, Sept 3 in Piazza S. Francesco (starting at 11:30 am)

Final Selection of the Horses

Good Luck Dinner for each “team” in their designated public squares

Sunday, Sept 4 (the show starts at 5 pm, but there is something happening all day long)

133rd Edition of Giostra del Saracino

The Joust of the Saracen or Giostra del Saracino is a beautiful medieval festival that animates Arezzo every year with colors, sounds and flavors from the Middle Ages. Head to Arezzo and go back in time!

Special Jubilee Edition of the Giostra

Giostra Straordinaria dedicated to the Giubileo della Misericordia

In honor of the special relationship that links Arezzo with the Vatican, it is dedicating an extraordinary date for the Giostra in August. The “La Lancia d’Oro” (the grand prize for the Joust) has been dedicated to the Vatican in this Holy year of the Jubilee and after being blessed by the Pope was put on exhibition at the Vatican. This particular trophy was created by Ivan Theimer, an international sculptor who is presently exhibiting various pieces in the newly restored Medici fortress.

Here is the calendar for the special addition to the Giostra

August 2016

Saturday, August 20th in Piazza della Libertà (11 am)

Position Extraction Ceremony and the Captain's Oath

Sunday 21 till Wednesday 24 (8:15 pm to 11:30 pm)

Trail run for the Jousters

Thursday, August 25th in Piazza Grande (6 pm -7 pm)

Final Selection of the Horses

Good Luck Dinner for each “team” in their designated public squares

Saturday, August 27 (the show starts at 5 pm, but there is something happening all day long)

132nd Edition of Giostra del Saracino


Author: Lourdes Flores

I'm from California but have called Florence my home for over a decade. I love to explore Italy; it is a lot of fun to try to see everything like I'm seeing it for the first time, keeping you, our readers, always in mind. I enjoy sharing what I know and helping others as they make their travel plans for Tuscany through our Forum. If you have itinerary-related questions, please post them there!



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