Saracen Joust – San Donato

Giostra del Saracino – Giostra di San Donato

Local Tradition


  • Historical reenactment event in Arezzo
  • Held twice a year: June and September
  • Competition between four city Quarters
  • Celebrates city’s patron saint and protectress
Off Trail
Piazza Grande
Piazza Grande, 52100 Arezzo AR, Italy

Next to last Saturday of June

Admission Fees:



The Giostra del Saracino, or Saracen Joust, is an important historical reenactment event held twice a year in Arezzo, Italy.

It’s a thrilling competition between the four city Quarters: Porta Crucifera, Porta del Foro, Porta Sant’Andrea, and Porta Santo Spirito.

Participants, dressed as knights, gallop on horses and attempt to hit a target held by a revolving armor-plated dummy, known as the Buratto, which represents the King of the Indies.

The event is held in honor of Saint Donatus (Giostra di San Donato) on the penultimate Saturday of June and in honor of Our Lady of Comfort (Giostra della Madonna del Conforto) on the first Sunday of September.

Each edition of the Saracen Joust features a grand procession of around 350 costumed people and 27 horses parading through Arezzo’s historical center, culminating in the exciting tournament held in Piazza Grande. The 2023 Giostra di San Donato will take place on June 17.

Event Schedule

  • 07:00: First cannon salute
  • 10:30: Departure of Municipal Foot Soldiers and Valets from the Cathedral of Santi Pietro e Donato
  • 11:00: Second cannon salute, Joust Procession begins
  • 19:00: Third cannon salute, blessing of the knights
  • 19:30: Parade Assembly in Piazza San Domenico, in front of the Basilica of San Domenico
  • 20:00: Fourth cannon salute
  • 20:15: Blessing of the teams by the bishop of Arezzo
  • 20:30: Grand parade through the historical center of the city
  • 21:00: Fifth cannon salute, Giostra del Saracino begins


The Giostra del Saracino traces its roots back to medieval times, and it has become a key aspect of Arezzo’s cultural heritage.

Even famed poet Dante Alighieri mentioned the event in his Divine Comedy, capturing the festive atmosphere.

The tradition has continued over the centuries, only briefly interrupted during World War II.

Each city Quarter has two jousters who compete for the Lancia d’Oro, a trophy made of walnut, basswood, or maple.

The teams are determined during an “extraction” ceremony held at Palazzo Civico on the Sunday before the joust. The event includes a historic procession featuring flag throwers and the official music group, the Gruppo Musici della Giostra del Saracino, who perform as the clarions sound.

Photo Gallery