So I’ve officially been in Arezzo for a week now and have been loving every minute of it! Today was the joust which only happens twice a year and it was like nothing else I’ve ever experienced in my life. Living here during this time is like living somewhere between medieval times and the present and I love it! Starting from the day I came the different quartieres of the city were having parades through their streets and shooting off canons. I am not a proud member of the Porto Santo Spirito clan or as my roommate and I have preferred to call it “Gryffindor” even though we are not the colors I feel like I’m in Hogwarts mixed with OU/TX weekend!
Our classes are at the University of Siena in Arezzo and it is basically like every other school except you walk through beautiful tuscan trees to get there! There are also only three buildings which makes it a bit different than OU. My class there is the advanced italian class which is basically 2 semesters to 5 which is a bit confusing but our teacher is great so I’m excited for it. My other class is Italian Decorative Complexes with the director Kirk Duclaux and our first day of class was so wonderful! He brought in experts in the Arezzo area to talk about the city from the time of the Etruscans to present and we were able to go under the city to look at excavated etruscan streets and houses which were still in great shape. It is funny to think that basically by digging down a few feet anywhere in Italy you are likely to find some sort of ruins is amazingly cool and also a bit difficult for them to get building permits! Next we had an architect take us around describing what Arezzo used to look like compared to now and explained a lot of the structures. This definitely gave me a new appreciation for the town I’m living in.
Since the actual courses at UNISI don’t start until October I am only taking 2 classes at the moment which is pretty amazing! But I’m trying to fill my time learning more italian so that I don’t die on my first day of classes taught only in italian! What’s even crazier is that there isn’t even a schedule up for what the classes offered are or times yet, so I’m basically just waiting and hoping that two classes will work out with my schedule and transfer!
Saturday there was a great antique market at the top of the city by the duomo where I was able to find some great stuff like antique wooden boxes, earrings, coins, etc. Then that evening was the joust dinner where we all went to my quartiere for a huge feast with all of the locals. This could not have possibly been any more fun that it was! We all wear our colors (blue and gold) then find our spot at the table and are served a 3 course meal by the young people of the area. At first we were at the wrong table so it was quite funny having to move all of our silverware and cups and food to a different table when we got kicked out of ours!
At our new table there was a rowdy group of italian guys next to us who came and taught us our “talking smack” song about S. Crucifero quartiera. When they came over they taught me and when they realized I had it down they were lifting me out of my chair and onto the bench to lead the chant. At this point I had no choice so I was yelling out our italian chant followed by the other OU people and our new italian friends, it was the funniest and greatest thing I’ve done in a long time!
That night after the dinner each group has a huge party and I was able to visit 3 out of the 4. This was a great way to meet new italian and practice my communication skills. Arezzo isn’t exactly a large city in Italy, but for the joust I’m pretty sure the population more than doubles for awhile which was crazy but also fun!
The next day is the actual joust where the streets literally flood with people decked out in their colors and cram into the piazza grande for the biggest event of the year. It is seriously like an OU student section, but with 4 teams! Each section is full of lots of hyped up young people with noise makers, smoke machines, flags, and all sorts of other stuff. Next there was a huge procession of all of the medieval people in their costumes with the band following. After them were the flag throwers which were amazing! There must have been 60 or more of them and they came and did their routines starting with the oldest going to the youngest. They jumped, flipped, threw and all in multicolored tights! I was very impressed with their skills, especially when a man that had to be at least 60 jumped over another mans flag and rolled on the ground. Next each quartiere came out with their jousters, men with bows and arrows and other costumed people.
I was prepared with my Santo Spirito scarf, feather earrings, and whistle so Kara and I cheered on our quartiere proudly! After around an hour and a half of processions and flag throwing the jousting began and it is really a short but stressful time. There are 8 jousters total (and no they don’t hit each other, I was a bit disappointed too). Each jouster only gets one chance to strike the Saracin (this large dummy with a target and a weapon in the other hand that spins around and can hit them after they strike the target). The target has a bulls-eye and then other areas which determine the score 1-5. 5 being the best and the hardest the achieve, only to be outdone by someone breaking their lance on the strike which means double points. But if you are struck by the weapon of the Saracin you lose all points!
The first to go was S. Anrdrea, the winner from last joust. After the first run everyone thought he had a 5 but it was determined by the judges as a 4. Next was my team S. Spirito who also got a 4, proceeded by S. Crucifero who astounded everyone by getting the perfect score of a 5. This was when the energy in the piazza rose substantially and it was great! S. Laurentino went last with a 4 so no one was completely out of the game yet.
What happened next was stunning and no one could believe it! S. Andrea took their 2nd (and last turn) and only scored a 2! You can imagine the “student section” at this point where they were yelling back and forth between Crucifero and Andrea, all I understood was that Crucifera was making fun of them and Andrea kept pointing to a sign stating that they won last time, it was seriously just like a football game!
Spirito was next and received another 4 which made us happy to have beaten Andrea, but Crucifero scored a 4 which meant they won unless Lorentino got a perfect score. The intensity at this moment was nuts since Lorentino is definitely the underdog of all of the teams here. The crowd got quiet as the jouster ran and hit the bulls-eye perfectly. The crowd erupted from all sides with either excitement or stress! This mean a Joust Off which is not a typical thing because normally ties are uncommon.
Things really got rowdy at this point and some of the horses were even a bit spooked. So out came Crucifero for their last attempt at the win. Instead of silence at this point their was crazy noise from all sides, either cheering on or attempting to distract, but the jouster didn’t seem to notice and went as hard and fast as he could so what do you know? He BROKE THE LANCE! People were going nuts and it took awhile just to clear the men out of the running area so that they could announce and bring out Laurentino. Since his score was doubled he received an 8 and everyone basically knew it was over, but Laurentino still had a great run receiving a 4, but not enough to win.
After the final announcement of the final scores the “student section” of Crucifero broke lose like at bedlam and climbed the walls to receive the golden lance. And I swear if their had been a goal post there they would have taken it to the ground within seconds! We all stayed and watched the madness for a good while before retiring home to have dinner and reflect quite possibly one of the top 5 best things I’ve ever done in my life!
On a side note, one of my best friends Azure Kirby was offered a job at Devon for after she graduates and she accepted!! I'm so proud of her!!