Friday, September 14, 2012

La Giostra (The Joust)

My ticket! 

The streets got extremely busy before it started, it was crazy!

The right side of the Piazza where the judges are seated.

The flag twirlers from all four quartieri (quarters).

All the men from each quartiere getting in line as their riders come out. I was apart of Porta Santo Spirito, my colors are blue and yellow (and yes, I did make a remix to Wiz Khalifa's song lol), so my section is located on the left. Porta Sant'Andrea is the green on the right. 

The crowd reaction after we (Santo Spirito) won, it was INSANE!!

Each quartiere has a flag, here's my roommate with our's. 

The neat menu from the restaurant we had dinner at after the joust. So many varieties of pastas and sauces you can choose from and that made me very happy. Did I mention how amazing the food is here? 

My first ever authentic Tiramisu, which was divine. I'm addicted and have had so much since. It's getting up there with nutella, guys. 

My deepest apologies for the lack of updates! I was in Rome this past weekend, had a ton of homework, and got sick the other day (my luck, right?). So La Giostra del Saracino (the joust), where do I even begin? I don't have the words to describe just how amazing this experience was. Before I got here, all the directors and students would say, "You'll be there for the joust, it's insane!" and I never really thought anything of it until I learned about the history and witnessed it myself. I know, it may seem silly that an entire town dresses in medieval garb and has riders with lances jousting at a target--I thought the same--but it's so much more than that. This joust has been around since the 16th century and has defined this area of Italy. Many important people were present at these jousts in the past, including Hitler and Mussolini during the fascist regime. An entire year of preparation goes into this, a handcrafted lance (made by a crafter right here in Arezzo) is awarded to the winners, and thousands of people from all over the world come just to see it. It creates a sense of competition among the town, which is divided up into four quartieri (quarters/neighborhoods). Porta Crucifera, who came in second, Porta Sant'Andrea, who always wins, Porta del Foro, who came in fourth, and last but not least, the reigning champions, my neighborhood, Porta Santo Spirito! Can you tell I got pretty competitive over this? I may or may not have ran down the streets with my roommate after the joust, with my flag, singing "Santo spirito-oh, santo spirito-oh!" I also bragged about it for hours after, constantly asking all the other kids who were in different neighborhoods what place they came in.

Moving along to how the joust works. Each neighborhood gets two riders, who each get one shot to joust. They have to hit their lance on this board, that's divided up into four sections with different point values, that's being held up by this ugly character that represents something sinister (I don't remember). Once the lance hits the board, the entire mechanism spins, the board gets taken down and the judges have to figure out where the lance hit the board and how many points that neighborhood gets. If the lance breaks at all during the joust, that team gets double the amount of points. Once the judges figure out the points, the loudspeaker would announce the name of the quartiere and everyone would go dead silent to await the points. Once they announced the points, people would erupt, it was exhilarating! I didn't think we would all get so into it, but at one point, my roommate and I had our fingers crossed when it was our rider's second turn. We ended up breaking the lance (which apparently never happens), got double the points, and won! Our fans ran from the stands with giant flags and started chanting, it was absolute hysteria. And the runners up, Porta Crucifera, lost to us by one point, it was an upset and it made it that much more exciting. It's funny because I remember asking Giulia who usually wins the joust and she said it was always her team, Sant'Andrea, and I jokingly said we would win this time. And what are the odds?! It was so different, so thrilling to see just how competitive and proud people got for this event. Each neighborhood had their own songs and chants and went crazy whenever their riders did good. 

The post joust celebrations were also great. There were outdoor parties in each neighborhood's Piazza every single night leading up to the event, so it was no different after the joust, except that the only party was obviously at the winner's Piazza. There was a live DJ, people having a good time, and then my group of friends and I, going crazy with our flags, singing songs about Santo Spirito. At one point, we all tried to get up on the stage with the DJ, but that was a giant fail. 

This entire experience was breathtaking, as cheesy as it sounds. I remember standing up in my seat, waiting to hear my team's point value, and just looking up at the Piazza and all the people, thinking, "I can't believe I'm here witnessing this." At that moment, I was truly thankful I decided to come in the fall and I definitely plan to come back again, during this time, just to experience this one more time. 

I'll be updating about my weekend in Rome, which was unreal, in the next few days. I'm still having a hard time accepting I was there. Pictures will be included and I hope everyone is doing well. Thank you for all the continued support to this blog, even though I've been lacking with updates!


Hell Notes for Beauty™ said...

Amazing what a fantastic experience!

Darianne said...

Sounds like so much fun!

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