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Upcoming Events 2010:


CORTONA: 31st May - 1st June, 2010

THE JOUST OF THE ARCHIDADO - Historical origins

Cortona archidado

Of primary importance for this topic is the well documented historical work Cortona nel Medioevo by our illustrious fellow citizen Girolamo Mancini.
From chapter XXVI "Francesco Casali marries Antonia Salimbeni" (year 1397, pages 148-249).
The most beautiful young woman arrived in Cortona on January 8 of 1397, escorted by Uguccio and the bridegroom. Attending the nuptials were guests from Florence, Castello and m. Niccolò Castracani, each followed by ten horses, Ottavio Ubaldini and his wife and 20 horses, the landlord of Braschi and other gentlemen with smoller escorts, a large number of trumpets, pipes, players of several instruments, fencers and performers. The Malatestas from Rimini, Castiglione Aretino from Isola Maggiore, the Trasimeno lake rentors, all sent gifts. In the city the rectors of the Guilds, in the country the heads of villas, all the families in the city even modest ones offered sweets, poultry, birds, hay for the horses.
Among the gifts were especially admired one precious girdle made with pearls of the cost of 100 florins donated by Castello, one piece of vermillion velvet offered by Florence, one horse and two pieces of cloth interwoven in silk and gold sent by the Marcquise Malatesta Malatesti, and a chest jewel. of the value of 200 florins sent by Carlo Malatesti.
To furnish Palazzo Casali, that had been slowly depredated by courtesans, the citizens loaned beds, tables, linens, basins, silverware and such household goods. In the days of splendid festivities jousts and dances followed one another.
"The Joust of Archidado traces its origins back to the Middle Ages and precisely before the year 1000, origin certainly born of a legend…" So is narrated in the cronicle of prof. F. Magrini (a contemporary writer from Arezzo).


Programme coming soon




The joust is chivallery - AREZZO -

Saturday 19th June 2010 (21:30)

Sunday 5th September 2010 (17:00)

Joust Saracino Arezzo

Made of traditions, memories, costumes and practices.The joust has an ethical value, even if “veiled” by the population’s festive commotion, it follows its own distinctive essence, the essence of a town: Arezzo.

At the Joust we can still see the old family symbols on the knights and the symbols of their epic deeds under the walls of Jerusalem, originating from a memory or by what had to be done by those who followed pope Gregorio's invitation to go to the crusades (in partibus infidelium). (The shield and the colors of the Pazzi family of the Valdarno is a good example.) In a day that is timeless, the tournament and the knights seem to "be carved." This term is a homage to "Mastro Wolf" and his art, who captured the joust's spirit by transferring it from his eyes to his heart, from his heart to his hand and from his hand to his work. This Vasarian genius created a game like effect between the stone floor (pietra serena) and the masses with a person's figure that separates from the rest indicating its own uniqueness, the event and its repetition: The Buratto (dummy target).
Described by the Herald's challenge, as the chosen one, the most skilful among Persia and Babylon's soldiers, the king of the Indies presents himself as a hero of Kitab af -futuwak, in other words the code of Arab chivalry equals for dignity and nobility the rules of "The Knights of the Temple".
Treated like a Prince by his family members, the Buratto of Arezzo has royal but isolated nobility, and thanks to his soul's strength he can withstand the challengers by stopping them and by striking back. If the Knight's lance breaks, by his arm's strength and by the Burratto's shield resistance, then the Buratto's honor is doubled while doubled can be the dishonor for the knight if the cat-o'-nine-tails on the Buratto's right hand strikes him.
The Buratto, never loses. He is the alter ego of a great game where the Knights must strike for points not only for themselves, but first of all for their "Quartiere" (district, area)
The joust is a reality, of extraordinary noble origins, that becomes passion for the citizens who support their local flag and by the observer that will experience the absorbing and powerful emotions of the joust. In conclusion:
To the Christian Knights: "Non nobis Domine, non nobis sed nomini tuo da gloriam" (motto of the Knights Templar) -Not to us, but give Glory to your name- To the Islam Knights: "la galib illa Allàh" (from the motto by the kings of Andalusia of the Ahmer dynasty) - There is no winner but God -



' Festival dei Due Mondi'

53rd Anniversary


18th June - 4th July, 2010

Spoleto Festival

Situated in the green heart of Umbria, Spoleto is taken over by a whirlwind of artistic activity during its annual festival: enjoy quality classical music, theatre, ballet, visual arts and cinema in a beautiful, romantic city that invites leisurely strolls at dusk.



2nd July 2010

16th August 2010

Palio Siena



Palio SienaPalio Siena


Colours, crowd, celebratory shouts, a piazza covered with tufa, ten horses ridden bareback in a race that lasts only a few seconds.

For those who are seeing it for the first time, this is the Palio. For the Sienese it is life, passion, history. It’s the miracle of a game that becomes real life, where there is a place for joy and pain, courage and intrigue, loyalty and betrayal.

A mediaeval inheritance which, on 2nd July and 16th August deeply affects Siena life and is always a catharsis.

The traditional horse race 'Palio', which is run around the Piazza del Campo, is a perfect example of preserved medieval pageantry.
Horses are blessed in the churches of the boroughs participating in the race and also with their jockeys at the Cathedral.
The day of the race they all make their way in cortege in historical costume which parades from the streets into and around the Campo to the peal of the bell of the Mangia Tower till the actual Palio race takes place.


The Charm of the Palio

There are 17 contradas, but only 10 race in the Palio; therefore, other than the seven that race because they did not take part in the previous Palio, three are chosen by drawing lots. This process, which takes place the last Sunday in May and the first Sunday after the Palio of July, marks the beginning of the festivities.

Three days before the race, an important ceremony is held which is called "la tratta", or "the draw", in which every contrada is assigned by the drawing of lots one of the ten horses selected from the battery. This is a most important moment because a good horse can be decisive; the horses that race in the piazza are often half bloods that are both fast and as well as courageous. From that moment, the horse is taken into the contrada and is given all the attention possible: it has to eat well and rest quietly; for this reason it is entrusted with a "barbaresco", a man that takes it into his care and practically lives with it during the days leading up to the Palio, trying to determine its possibilities and obtain its best performance.

On the track, in fact, there is no time for joking. The curve called San Martino that is met going downhill, and another called Casato, which is on an uphill slope, can be deadly traps. The test runs, therefore, are faced with the idea of preparing the horse as well as the strategy for the race; it is also an important moment for the jockey, a protagonist as well even if to a lesser measure than the horse. The jockey is usually a foreigner to Siena, short, but courageous and well built and, most importantly, an exceptional horse rider because he will ride without a saddle and the risk if he falls is grave. As a rule, the jockey is a man, although some women have played the part as well; the last one was called Rompicollo, or "Breakneck" (in keeping with the Tuscan tradition every jockey has a nickname) and she raced for the contrada Aquila (Eagle).

The night before the race is the grandiose, propitious dinner where singing and toasting abound, but it is also the time when secret pacts are stipulated between the contradas, work of the captain and the "mangini" (the organizers), with the primary objective of winning the Palio in mind, but also with the goal of not letting the rival contradas win.

The day of the Palio, after the "provaccia" (the final trial run), the air gets tense and then when the bell tower sounds the signal and the young people that play a part are all dressed in their splendid, full costumes, the anticipation is felt everywhere. In the middle of a very excited atmosphere, every contrada that will take part in the race in the Campo has its horse blessed. It is a moment that cannot be missed; the "correctore" (priest) performs the benediction of the horse and the jockey and dismisses the latter saying, "Go and come back a winner!". Then the excitement is unleashed with drum rolls and the waving of flags surrounded by an increasingly dense crowd.

The anticipation continues to grow during the historic parade that precedes the Palio; one by one all of the contradas parade around the Campo in their multi-colored costumes until finally the "Carroccio" (a medieval war cart) enters, pulled by four oxen and carrying the banner called the Palio (also called "the cloth"), welcomed by thousands of waving handkerchiefs. After a seemingly never-ending wait, the horses enter the Piazza del Campo from the "Entrone" (entrance) of the Palazzo Pubblico and make their way, surrounded by shouting and applause, to the starting line of the race.

The start of the race ("la mossa") is a critical moment; the starting line-up is kept a secret until it is revealed by the starter moments before the race. The first nine horses line up one after the other as the emotion grips the throat of all. A good place at the starting line could mean a victory! It is not infrequent that the horses act up, due to the excitement of the jockey as well as the tension that reigns in the moments before the start, causing the line-up for the start to be repeated several times. The moment of the start is determined by the tenth contrada that acts as a "run-up" to the others, and only when that horse reaches the others does the rope that restrains the horses fall to the ground. The horses take off at an incredible speed, with the jockeys hanging on tightly to their necks, in a wide-open gallop.

The three laps around the track are completed in about one and a half minutes, at such an incredible speed that those seeing the Palio for the first time can hardly believe it. Even before the explosion of a firecracker declares the end of the race, the members of the winning contrada enter the track and run to claim "the cloth" yelling, "Give it to us! Give it to us!". A great exultation with flags follows, and the contradas that are "friends" of the winners unite with them, while at the same time it is not rare that some other jockeys get treated roughly by their contrada's members as their "thanks" for losing.

After the Palio is carried into the contrada, it is displayed in the museum. Then the festivities begin which will culminate in a huge dinner where the winning horse itself is at the head of the table. It is a celebration for all but everyone has already begun to think about the Palio of the following year.


Umbria Jazz: 09- 18 July 2010


Lago Trasimeno (Umbria)


22 July - 1 August, 2010

Trasimeno Blues


Tuscan Sun Festival:

Cortona 2010

July 31- August 5, 2010

Tuscan Sun Festival Cortona










What's on... Castiglion Fiorentino

Medieval Weekend: 31 May 2010

Medieval Weekend: 18-20 June 2010

Castiglion Fiorentino

Tuscany - truly the Garden of Eden where the sunflowers bloom, the aubergines glisten, the salamis are aromatic and the wine is fruity.

Touristy but glorious, Tuscany offers fabulous art and architecture especially in Florence and Siena where the dramatic Palio horse race is held in the main square twice every summer.

Spectacular medieval pageants like Arezzo's Joust remember the days of the Saracens while other extraordinary events abound, such as Pisa's Festa de San Ranieri when 70,000 candles illuminate the Leaning Tower and a boat race on the Arno.

Make your trip one to remember by timing your visit to coincide with an amazing event. We've done the legwork so you can have the fun.

Medieval Castiglion Fiorentino
Medieval Castiglion Fiorentino
Medieval Castiglion Fiorentino
Medieval Castiglion Fiorentino
Medieval Castiglion Fiorentino
Medieval Castiglion Fiorentino




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