The charming village of Montopoli in Val d’Arno recalls its ancient splendor with the medieval festival where you can attend a parade in historical clothes, performances by street artists, mediaeval market and the famous archery challenge among the inhabitants of the various districts of the village.
Volterra AD 1398 is one of the most entertaining and admired Italian re-enactment festivals. The festival takes place in the pulsing heart of medieval Volterra and in the singular “Parco di Castello” (town’s public garden), overlooked by the imposing Medici’s Fortress.
The town centre is animated by the ever-present past and the visitors are taken, as if by magic, back in time. Fiery steeds, bold knights, noblemen, craftsmen and merchants, peasants and farmers, flag-flyers, crossbowmen and soldiers, jugglers, musicians and jesters bring back to life the mysterious Middle Ages of Volterra. The gist of the festival is the “Feast Day of 1398 AD” that takes place on the second and third Sunday of August. On that occasion, from sunrise to sunset, the medieval town of 1398 lives again with shows, events, markets, craftsmen, musicians, jugglers, peasants and noblemen: a unique occasion to dive into the magic atmosphere of the Middle Ages, in one of the finest cities in Tuscany.
The Palio is the most important event in Siena, taking place on July 2 and August 16 every year.
In the Palio, the various Sienese “contrade”, or areas in which the city is divided, challenge each other in a passionate horse race in the heart of the city in the Piazza del Campo.
Originally, there were about fifty-nine “Contrade”; now only seventeen remain, ten of which take part in the historical pageant and in the race at each Palio (seven by right and three drawn by lots).
The 17 Contrade which still exist today are: the Eagle, Snail, Wave, Panther, Forest, Tortoise, Owl, Unicorn, Shell, Tower, Ram, Caterpillar, Dragon, Giraffe, Porcupine, She-Wolf and the Goose.
Each Contrada has its own unique emblem and colors and represents an area of the city. As one walks through the streets of Siena it is easy to know in which Contrada you currently are in by observing the flags and emblems displayed along the street. Much like street signs, corners often designate the entrance into a different Contrada with signs as the ones in the picture below.
The “Gioco del Ponte” is a historical re-enactment that takes place on the last Saturday of the month of June and which includes two fundamental moments: the historical parade along the Lungarni, the streets of Pisa, and the battle on the “Ponte di Mezzo” ( the bridge located in the middle of the city centre) which provides a fight between the two historical teams of the city: Tramontana and Mezzogiorno.
The victory goes to the team that, pushing the opponent’s cart at the opposite end of the sliding rail, remains the owner of the bridge.
At noon, the city will enter the new year, according to the calendar “in Pisan style” that makes coincide the first day of the year with that of the Annunciation (this calendar remained in force until the Grand Duke of Tuscany ordered everyone to adapt to the beginning of the year with the first of January, but there are still some irreducible fanatic who take the opportunity to celebrate the new year twice!).
Witness the return of the Palio di Buti, one of the longest running Tuscany horse races, alongside the Siena Palio. The Palio di Buti takes place in one of the most beautiful areas of the region, just a few kilometers from the astonishingly beautiful city of Pisa. Buti, Italy, is a charming village on the slopes of Mount Serra, where time seems to have stood still since the Middle Ages. The medieval castle, the streets and the stone walls are the source of the charm of bygone days that permeates Buti, Pisa. A charm that, as expected, is heightened and magnified on the day of winter in Tuscany, Italy, when the atmosphere in Buti, Tuscany, hots up thanks to a truly exciting and compelling event: the competitive spirit of the race, the cheering of the Buti’s inhabitants and the fascination of the historical re-enactment are combined in a truly unmissable mix.