Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Arezzo Antique Market & Giostra del Saracino

Considered to be one of the finest antique fairs in Tuscany, the Antique Market in Arezzo was the first market of its kind to be established in Italy in 1968. On the first Staurday and Sunday of every month, the market takes advantage of the extraordinary scenery of Piazza San Francesco, Piazza Grande and the Logge del Vasari, with stalls also spreading over the side alleys and squares across the historic centre, transforming the character of the city for the two days of the fair. The Fiera Antiquaria di Arezzo has grown over the years in size and reputation with around 500 vendors from across the country selling their treasures at the market, with an array of beautiful old furniture, paintings, silverware, antique books, assorted china, crystal and jewellery. A haven for antique collectors, the warren of shops that usually line the winding streets of Arezzo, and are worth spending an entire day to explore, however the sunny morning we arrived, the market was set up in the gorgeous Passeggio del Prato, a leafy park just steps from Piazza Grande.

Arriving early to immerse ourselves into the pageantry of the day, we stopped for a cappuccino at Gli Svizzeri Pastisseria to gird our loins and spent the morning exploring the Antique Market looking for hidden gems. To our great surprise, the annual Giostra del Saracino, an ancient tournament of chivalry dating back to the Middle Ages, was taking place the same day. The event opens with a colourful procession of over 350 participants dressed in ornate 14th-century costumes. The highlight of the procession is the blessing of the armed on the steps of the Duomo by the Bishop of Arezzo. In the late afternoon, the knightly tournament takes place in Piazza Grande. With the sound of trumpets and drums, the procession represented by each quarter of Arezzo's four neighbourhoods, enter the square bearing the colours and ancient gonfalons of the city, and prepare to joust for the Lancia d'Oro, or golden fleece. An extraordinary day of antique hunting and medieval pageantry, our visit to Arezzo was a special day we shall never forget.

Pasticceria Stefano Gli Svizzeri on Corso Italia

Our Barista making our cappuccino 

The perfect hot and creamy cappuccino 

Cornetto con Crema

Scarcella di noce e miele

The Arezzo Antique Fair was set up through the beautiful Passeggio del Prato the day we visited, as the annual La Giostra del Saracino was taking place in the Piazza Grande

Local pottery and glassware

Over 500 antique dealers arrive for the Fiera Antiquaria di Arezzo on the first weekend of every month

Lovely antique books for sale at the Fiera Antiquaria di Arezzo

The Porchetta truck is an iconic sight at any fair

An impromptu parade of La Giostra del Saracino making their way through the Park, 
to the delight of all of us at the Antique Market

Blessing of the Jousters at the Duomo 

With great fanfare, the parade makes its way through Arezzo to the Piazza Grande

The procession of over 300 participants in historical costume

All ages participate in the festivities

One of the 8 knights for each of the 4 quarters (quartieri) of the city - Porta del Foro, San Andrea, Porta Santo Spirito and Porta Crucifera

A symphony of drums and horns serenade each respective team

The costumes are beautifully made and make quite a sight

Two knights from each of Arezzo's four quartieri  -  Porta del Foro, San Andrea, Porta Santo Spirito and Porta Crucifera  -  compete against one another in a joust to win the Golden Lance

Each knight gallops with a wooden lance and aims at the Buratto and its shield, with the tournament won by the Quarter whose knights obtained the most points and wins the Lancia d'Oro

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