Medieval festivals and historical reenactments - Visit Pistoia
Photo credit: Compagnia dell'Orso Pistoia Facebook
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Medieval festivals and historical reenactments

Processions, games and parades in historical costumes

Abetone Cutigliano
San Marcello Piteglio
Serravalle Pistoiese


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A journey back in time to the era of noble ladies and knights, of jousts on horseback and merry celebrations, surrounded by drums and booming trumpets.

Duels, archery, games, dances, parades: these historical reenactments of medieval events are the ideal moment to visit art cities and tiny hamlets.

Not only the ‘Giostra dell’Orso’ – the Joust of the Bear: this is the time to admire and to enjoy, parades and shows, with noble dames, knights, musicians and flag-throwers.

1. Medieval Cutigliano


In the 14th century, the ‘Capitano della Montagna’s headquarters was in Cutigliano: this Captain was the officer sent by Florence to manage the Pistoia Mountains area. In fact, you can still see on the main facade of the ‘Palazzo dei Capitani’ the stone and polychrome terracotta coats of arms, with the heraldic emblems of the more or less 95 officials who held this post between 1444 and 1742. To commemorate these events, in the second half of July, Cutigliano turns the clock back to rediscover its ancient medieval soul. An elegant procession in historical costume winds along this village’s lanes in lockstep with its historic group of drummers.

2. ‘Ferrucciane’ Celebrations at Gavinana

At Gavinana – a hamlet in the Pistoia Mountains in the Municipality of San Marcello Piteglio – on 3rd August 1530, an important battle took place between the troops of the Empire and those of the ‘young’ Florentine Republic. In the fight, Francesco Ferrucci, a paladin of the Republic, was captured and killed by the enemy General Maramaldo who acted cruelly towards him despite the fact that he was already seriously injured: “Coward, you are killing a dead man” was the famous reply that our Florentine hero gave. Every year, around the time of the battle’s date, the courageous Francesco Ferrucci is commemorated with processions, games and historical parades.

3. The Siege of the Serravalle Pistoiese Fortress

Every year in Serravalle Pistoiese, almost one hundred extras reenact the Siege of 1302, when the Lucca troops fought against the Florentine troops led by their captain, Marquis Moroello Malaspina. So during the days of the Siege of the Fortress, the hamlet’s ancient lanes fill up with places to eat and drink, with entertainment for children, with places to have a go at archery, with guided tours and with much much more.

The Siege of the Fortress will come back to Serravalle Pistoiese from 6th to 8th of September 2024.

4. Historical Festival at Badia a Pacciana

A few miles out of Pistoia stands the Benedictine Abbey of Badia a Pacciana which, every year in September, carries out celebrations with a medieval theme running through them, in order to remember the glorious times of its past. There is much to enjoy during the festival but what must absolutely not be missed is the dinner in the cloister which you can take part in, dressed up in historical costume and where the menu is carefully based on recipes of those medieval times.

5. Marliana’s Historic Group

Since 2005, Marliana’s Historical Group – ‘Il Gruppo Storico di Marliana’ – concentrates on keeping alive dances and music of days gone by. The village of Marliana, with its many medieval features, welcomes historical countesses and ‘condottieri’, or warlords, such as the renowned Castruccio Castracani. These reenactments take place together with music, historical dances, drummers, flag-throwers and knights.

6. Giostra dell’Orso – the Joust of the Bear – Pistoia

Giostra dell'Orso
Photo credit: Nicolò Begliomini

On 25th July, the Day of St. James, Pistoia celebrates its patron saint by merrily decorating the town according to century-old tradtions. During the Joust of the Bear, four knights, each representing their district or ‘Rione’, fight for the honour of being awarded an exquisite ‘palio’ – an embroidered tapestry awarded as a prize. St. James’ celebrations go on for the whole of July.

Not only the Joust of the Bear: a July full of traditions