04 May 2009

I have spent the last few days gathering information for our guests, so that we can leave them a list of things to do while they are here. I have come across an incredible number of medieval festivals that take place in May, so if you are a fan of this type of event here […]

Medieval festivals in Tuscany

I have spent the last few days gathering information for our guests, so that we can leave them a list of things to do while they are here.

I have come across an incredible number of medieval festivals that take place in May, so if you are a fan of this type of event here is what I found!

  • Festa di Ciambragina, Serre di Rapolano (Siena), May 9-17. Giovanni de’ Rossi, a 14th century merchant, married a beautiful French girl, Ciambragina, and brought her to Serre di Rapolano. They lived in the cassero. The couple comes back to life and walks through the village in period costume accompanied by the bishop, elegantly dressed noblemen, musicians and knights. Many interesting events, such as the reenactment, a medieval market and a flag-waving show on Sunday May 10 and 17 at 4pm and the “knights’ dinner”, with live medieval-themed entertainment, including a falconry show on Saturday 9 at 8:30 pm. Moreover, the local “cantine” (cellars) are open to visitors who can try the local traditional products.
  • Festa Medievale di Malmantile, Malmantile – Lastra a Signa (Firenze), May 23-24 and 30-31. This is one of the best events in the area. The small village of Malmantile near Lastra is essentially transfomed into an old 15th century village. Over 150 people dressed up in historical costumes bring the village back to 1400.
  • La battaglia di Scannagallo (the battle of Scannagallo), Pozzo della Chiana (Arezzo), May 30-31. The local association reenacts the battle of Scannagallo, in which the Medicean troups fought the Sienese troups and won in 1555. The victory marks a major moment in the history of Tuscany. The historical accuracy is stunning. On Saturday, the battle field is open, there is a dinner and then the actors reenact the night attack to the Sienese camp. On Sunday at 3pm, the great battle is reenacted.  Really interesting.
  • Fiera Medievale, Serravalle Pistoiese (Pistoia), May 22-24. The fair opens on Friday at 8:30 pm with a medieval dinner. The following day and on Sunday, the fair opens in the castle where visitors can see how the old trades were carried out: from silk production to stone and wood carving, etc. You can even participate to the trial of a witch!
  • Balestro del Grifalco, Massa Marittima (Grosseto), May 24. The “balestro” takes place twice a year: on the fourth Sunday of May and on the 2nd Sunday of August. 24 crossbowmen challeng each other in this ancient crossbow competition, 8 for each quarter of Terziere (Borgo, Cittanuova, Cittavecchia). Before the competition, a parade in medieval costumes with 150 actors crossed the center of the beautiful town in the Metalliferous Hills of the Maremma, and some clever flag wavers perform their show.
  • Festa Medievale Bianco Azzurra, Castiglion Fiorentino (Arezzo), May 30-31, June 1-2, 5-7. Music, medieval food, period costumes in the Cassero of Castiglion Fiorentino.
  • Giostra dell’Archidado, Cortona (Arezzo), May 29-31 and June 1-2. A beautiful girl, Antonia Salimbeni, came to Cortona with her husband Francesco Casali, on January 8, 1397. With them a large group of festive noblemen arrived, with musicians, jugglers, and artists. The story goes that the people of Cortona offered chickens, sweets and good wine to join in the celebrations. The Giostra commemorates those events. The main events this year are a flag waving show on May 29, after dinner; in the afternoon of May 30, medieval games; on May 31, medieval market; on the evening of June 1, there is the reenactment of the famous wedding and finally on June 2, at 4pm, the Giostra (tournament).
  • A cena da Messer Giovanni, Certaldo Alto (Firenze), May 31 and June 13 at 8 pm. To coincide with the events of the Florentine Genius (Genio Fiorentino), the association Elitropia organises in Via Boccaccio a medieval dinner, with medieval food and waiters in period costumes. The dinners will be followed by a show by the Compagnia del Drago Nero. An interesting thing is that you can take home the medieval-style tableware. Reservation is necessary.

Medieval Festivals in Tuscany

I didn’t find much about other event, mostly just the names:

  • Palio delle Botti, Suvereto (Livorno), May 10.
  • Palio delle Contrade, Fucecchio (Firenze), May 24. This seems nice. I read that they have a massive parade in historical costumes with 1200 people. And apparently all the best jokeys of the Palio of Siena have participated in the “corsa nella buca d’Andrea” (literally a “race in Andrea’s hole”… I know it doesn’t sound right in the English translation, but this Buca d’Andrea should be some sort of circular track…).
  • Palio di Santo Stefano, Santo Stefano a Macerata – Cascina (Pisa), May 31.
  • 174th Historical Regatta “Ubaldesca”, Calcinaia (Pisa), May 31. A regatta on the River Arno, in honour of Saint Ubaldesca Taccini, the village patron saint.

Well, more to come in June. For the moment, go dress up in medieval costumes and join in the celebrations!!!


  1. Thanks for this interesting list about medieval festivals. We have in Austria only a few one generally placed in castles or castle ruins.

  2. There is also a type of medieval feast at Pavia, Lombardy with a procession through the historical city and then a palio of boats on the river.

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