Gioco del Ponte in Pisa

Wed, 05/27/2009 - 03:25
ponte di mezzo
Every year at the end of June, Pisa hosts the Gioco del Ponte, a giant tug-of-war type competition over the Arno River.
The Battle of the Bridge dates back to the times of the Medici family, was reinstituted in the 1930s after a century-long hiatus, and now again takes place with participants wearing medieval, Spanish-inspired costumes.
For a series of six challenges, different teams from the Tramontana and Mezzogiorno groups (representing different parts of the city) situate themselves on opposite sides of the Ponte di Mezzo; in between them is a seven-ton carriage that is pushed back and forth until one side shoves its opponents to the opposite end of bridge. Whoever wins the most challenges, wins that year's gioco.
Immediately preceding the Gioco del Ponte on 27 June is a grand historical military procession, but the entire month has a festive feel in Pisa with concerts and art events scheduled throughout June. One of the most spectacular displays is the Luminaria di San Ranieri, the patron saint of Pisa, when lit torches line the banks of the Arno and white lights highlight buildings’ windows and doors, casting a gorgeous glow onto the water and making the city seem like it dropped right out of a fairy tale.

Have you had the pleasure of being in Pisa in June?