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Giostra dell'Orso (Joust of the Bear) in Pistoia


A leap back in time to medieval times

In Pistoia, every July 25, the Giostra dell'Orso (Joust of the Bear) is held, a modern re-edition of the ancient "palio race", organized on the occasion of the feast of St. Jacopo, patron saint of Pistoia, and documented since the first half of the 10th century. A race of such importance that, over the centuries, it has been interrupted only in case of exceptional events, such as wars, epidemics or internal political struggles.

On the occasion of the Joust, along the streets of the historic town center, all the way to Piazza Duomo, parades an impressive historical procession consisting of about 300 people in their characteristic medieval costumes. The procession consists of the banners of the mountains and plains, as well as the flags of the major and minor arts of the city and the four districts; each district is represented, as in ancient times, by three companies, each of them with a captain, a flag, a knight, and a trumpeter.

The race is contested among twelve horsemen, three from each of the four districts, named after the city gates and symbolized by the Lion, the Deer, the Dragon and the Griffin. Solemnly announced by the trumpeters and a roll of drums, the twelve knights enter the square followed by the picturesque procession and, having greeted the Authorities and representatives of each district, they take their places under the archway of the Town Hall. A herald reads the rules governing the tournament, after which the Joust begins. The knights, two by two, their lances lowered, gallop along the special track, created around the perimeter of the square, until they reach the figures of two stylized bears that represent the target to be hit and for which particular scores are awarded from time to time.

In addition to the proclamation of the winning district, the rider who individually achieved the highest score is awarded the title of "Cavalier speron d'oro di Pistoia e contado". (Knight with the golden spur of Pistoia and county).

The program for July 25, 2024:

  • 9:30 a.m.
    Parade of the Ceri
  • 6:30 p.m.
    Historical parade through the streets of the center (starting from Porta Lucchese)
  • 9:15 p.m.
    Giostra dell'Orso

The Giostra trials will take place on July 22 and 23, at 8:30 p.m.
Discover all the events scheduled in the days leading up to the Palio.

Informations: and