Knights tournament of Castel Clementino

 

The village of Servigliano is a small one, with a population of little more than two thousand people. Like many similar places in Italy its architecture still retains several Medieval and earlier landmarks, which in this case mean the Castel Clementino fortified complex. It is not the only ancient reminder of Servigliano’s past, however. The biggest event of the year is the Torneo, the multi-day celebration of the concession for public use of a nearby plain by theabbey that owned it until the year 1450. At the time the gift meant that locals could finally get to earn a living for themselves, and since 1969 it has become a grand tourist attraction.

As customary with these tournaments, the heart of the show is a contest between the five districts the town is divided into. The game involves “knights” threading a lance through a series of ever smaller rings while galloping on a eight-shaped course – the knight who proves to be the more precise and fast wins a palio, or decorated banner. What makes the Torneo di Castel Clementino different, however, is the huge participation of the whole village to the celebrations. Practically everyone is involved in one way or another in the making of an incredibly detailed reenactment including several different events.

During the week of the tournament, Servigliano sees concerts of medieval music, stage shows set during the Sixteenth century, a big fair showcasing ancient arts and crafts, historical games including crossbow sharpshooting and other Renaissance skills, and much more. A particularly interesting part of the celebrations is the Gareggiare delle taverne, a contest among local restaurants and pubs to determine the best traditional food recipes. The absolute highlight is however the parade opening the tournament itself, with about 400 costumes painstakingly recreated taking period paintings as their model. The whole town really seems to go back in time, and doubly so at the end of the parade, when a 1,000 seats “propitiatory” dinner is served to cheer the knights who are going to ride the next day.