Sunday, 15 June 2008


Arezzo's Piazza Grande is the setting of the Giostra del Saracino, or Saracen Tournament.

Held twice a year, a night version on the third Saturday in June and the second on the first Sunday in September, this tournament has its origins in the early 16th century and in its present form, commemorates Christian efforts to hold back the tide of Islam in the 14th century.

There is a lively and colorful procession preceding the event in which eight costumed knights charge towards a wooden representation of the Saracen, aiming to hit the Saracen's shield with lances.

The target is mounted as to swivel around and can actually hit back! Each pair of knights represents one of Arezzo's four rival districts and their supporters each occupy a side of the piazza. The winner receives a golden lance.

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