Palio delle Contrade and Joust of the Star

Anyone interested in games and a Joust this weekend? This coming up Sunday, September 14, Bagno a Ripoli‘s historical center will be the setting for the the Joust of the Star. The four quarters or contrade of the town compete against each other starting at 4 p.m. in several games, including a tug-of-war and various relay races with eggs, in sacks and with hoops. Points earned at these games and in the later Giostra della Stella, or Joust of the Star, count towards winning the Palio.

The program says the historical parade will start at 8.30 p.m. and includes performances by various regional musical groups – this year the terziere Porta Fiorentina di Castiglion Fiorentino, Gruppo Storico Città di Cortona and Gruppo Storico Città di Passignano will be present – as well as official hymns by the Filarmonica ‘L. Cherubini’ di Bagno a Ripoli. The parade includes each contrada’s captain, horse and knight, as well as four couples dressed in Renaissance period costumes.

Then at 9.30 p.m., after general introductions in the tournament ring, an exhibition by the flag-throwers of the Sbandieratori del Palio delle Contrade and performances of Renaissance dances by the couples of each contrada, the tournament begins. Each knight has three runs and has to attempt to grab with the tip of his sword a star that dangles from a rearing lion’s claws as the knight gallops by. The star, still on the sword, has to then be presented to the Lady of the Contrada without dropping it, otherwise no points are awarded. There is a set time for each run, and on each one, the center hole on the star gets smaller. The points won for each star that is captured also grow as the difficulty increases.

The challenge is high, requiring skill and concentration from each knight. The winning contrada is announced shortly after the end of the tournament, and is followed by a grand fireworks show. We’re planning to go experience this interesting tournament this weekend, hope some of our readers will come and join us!

About Lourdes Flores

An American living in Florence for over 10 years, Lourdes continues to explore and discover new places in Tuscany with the eyes of a tourist but with the experience of living in Italy. She shares her experiences on this blog and website, particularly offering lots of travel planning help on the Forum!