Prior to Arezzo, the closest I’ve ever come to a joust was by watching American Gladiators on TNT. So you can imagine my curiosity when I discovered that the city was competing in a week-long festival pitting neighbor against neighbor in the real deal doul.
During the festival week, called the Giostre del Saracino, or Sacaren Joust, the city divides into four quartieri. My host family reigns from the St. Andrea neighborhood, a favorite to win.
I wandered into their warm up area just minutes before the big joust and got a peek at St. Andrea’s green and white pride and secret pre-game ritual: eat a croissants, smoke a cigarette and drink heavily.
It must work, because they won. The fanfare and celebrations that spilled into the streets reminded me that although Arezzo has the comforts of a modern Italian city, the medieval rivalry and ancient Tuscan traditions live on.