The Saracen Joust
The “Giostra del Saracino” or Saracen Joust takes everyone in Arezzo right back to the Middle Ages
In order to really get to know the people of Arezzo or “Aretini,” you have to experience the Saracen Joust with them. For the people of Arezzo, the Joust is the most important festivity and the one they hold closest to their hearts.
The Saracen Joust is the largest, oldest and most-loved historical re-enactment in Arezzo. It is a chivalrous tournament that is carried out in the Piazza Grande square twice a year. The first joust happens at night on the third Saturday in June and the second joust takes place during the day on the first Sunday of September.
This tournament has its roots in the Middle Ages and was even mentioned in the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. It is a challenge between knights who represent the four districts of the city of Arezzo. There is the “Porta del Foro” district with yellow and crimson colors, the “Porta Santo Spirito” in yellow and blue, the “Porta Sant’Andrea” in white and green, and the “Porta Crucifera” in red and green.
The knights from each district ride their horses and take aim with a long wooden lance at the “Buratto” or wooden figure, perched on a spinning pole at the other end of the square. The “Buratto,” known locally as the King of the Indies, holds a scoreboard in his left hand and each knight tries to strike the scoreboard as close to the center as possible in order to achieve the highest score. The district that accumulates the most points wins the coveted prize: the Golden Lance.
The best festivities take place outside of the Piazza Grande square and spill out into the streets and squares of the historic center of Arezzo. The whole area comes alive with music and color thanks to the historic processions that pass along with dames, knights, men of the armies, flag throwers and musicians all dressed in medieval costumes.
The Saracen Joust is everyone’s favorite festival and the people of Arezzo look forward to it every year. It is a tradition that has been going on for many years and shows the love and sense of belonging that everyone has for their own district. Everyone in Arezzo wears their colors proudly.