Battle of the Bridge in Pisa – Gioco del Ponte

by Samuele Sodini


Its origins may be lost in the mists of time, but this summer pageant with a cast of thousands is still the most important annual event in Pisa.
Armies representing the Mezzogiorno (south of the River Arno) and Tramontana (north of the river) neighbourhoods of the city meet at the Ponte di Mezzo, where the opposing teams demonstrate their physical strength and prowess.
No longer do they bludgeon each other with maces and pointed shields (as they did in days of yore), but instead they take turns to push an immense cart weighing several tons, and they are judged by the force of their efforts. Before the “battle” there is a grand procession along the banks of the Arno with hundreds of participants wearing medieval costume, many of them in the Spanish style of the late 16th-century. Approximately 100,000 turn out for the event each year.

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