The Saracen Joust is the mainly historical event in the city of Arezzo. The tournament takes place twice yearly: on the second to last Saturday of June, by night (San Donato Joust) and the first Sunday of September in the afternoon (Madonna del Confronto Joust). The joust rappresents an important attraction for thousands of tourists conquered by its historical beauty. Hundreds of colorful costumes and characteres, dozens of horses, accompanied by the town’s ancient banners and the sound of trumpets bring back the inhabitants and the tourists into the festive medieval atmosphere.
The knightly tournament dates back to the Middle Age. It was born as an exercise for the military training. This tournament was regularly held in Arezzo between the 16th century and the end of the 17th century, when the memorable jousts were organized in baroque style. Tournaments and jousts were described also by Dante Alighieri at the beginning of Canto XXII of the Inferno:
“Corridor vidi per la terra vostra, o Aretini, e vidi gir gualdane, fedir torneamenti e correr giostra”.
Suspended in the eighteenth century and resumed between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the reenactment disappeared from 1810, and then reappeared from 1904 when was dedicated to Francesco Petrarca.
Since 1931, when it was officially restored, except for the interruption linked to the Second World War, the Joust runs regularly every year on the grand square of Piazza Grande.
Over the centuries, this tournament has been celebrated on the occasion of visits by famous personalities, to welcome reignings heads, princes and cardinals, but also to solemnise important civil occasions, for examples the weddings of the nobility.
Nowadays, the Saracen of Arezzo is the festivity awaited year after year, and thanks to its every districts acrivities, keeps alive an old tradition for centuries, making the inhabitants of Arezzo relieve their tradition and the sense of community.