I am a bit late in publishing this post about the medieval festivals that take place in May in Tuscany. But better late than never! If you are a fan of this type of event, you should not miss…
- La Scampanata, Anghiari (Arezzo), May 1-31. This festival is held every 5 years. The members of the “Società della Scampanata” make an appointment every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 6am sharp in Piazza Baldaccio. Those who come late get a public trial and are dragged around on a cart throughout the town while the other fellows throw eggs, trash and other disgusting things at them. A curious event.
- Flag wavers’ competition in Florence, Piazza Santa Croce, May 15.
- Festa di Ciambragina, Serre di Rapolano (Siena), May 9 and 15-16. 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. 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 29-30 and June 5-6. 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 29-30. 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 15-16 and 21-23. This year’s 4th edition of the festival has an interesting “preamble”: the “pellegrinaggio tra i castelli“, a guided walking tour of the local castles. The participants will have to wear medieval costumes. The actual fair opens on the 21st 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!
- Medieval treasure hunt, Certaldo (Florence), May 23.
- La Fiorita, Florence, Piazza della Signoria, May 23. Celebrations for the anniversary of the death of Fra’ Girolamo Savonarola.
- Balestro del Grifalco, Massa Marittima (Grosseto), May 23. 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 29-30, June 1-2, 4-6. Music, medieval food, period costumes in the Cassero of Castiglion Fiorentino.
- Festa medievale, Barberino Val d’Elsa (Florence), May 29-30. The festival opens on May 29 at 5pm with a parade in period costumes and for the rest of the weekend the clocks in Barberino go back to the 13th century when the village was an important trade center.
- Palio delle Contrade, Fucecchio (Firenze), May 23. This seems nice. I read that they have a massive parade in historical costumes with 1200 people. And apparently all the best jockeys 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…).
- Festa del Grillo (“The Cricket Festival”), Florence, May 16. A very old Florentine festival, rooted in old pagan rites celebrating the arrival of the spring. Originally, young men would leave flowers by their fiancées’ windows. Lately, the habit of leaving a cricket in a cage as well become more and more popular. A “happy” cricket is said to bring good luck to the household.
- Palio di Santo Stefano, Santo Stefano a Macerata – Cascina (Pisa), May 30. It anticipates the Gioco del Ponte taking place in Pisa at the end of June and celebrates the history town of Cascina and its role in the battle between Pisa and Florence.
- Historical Regatta “Ubaldesca”, Calcinaia (Pisa), May 30. A regatta on the River Arno, in honour of Saint Ubaldesca Taccini, the village patron saint.
- Medieval village, Montecatini Terme (Pistoia), May 30. A medieval village is recreated in the center.
Go dress up in medieval costumes and join in the celebrations!!!