After a hearty breakfast (prepared courtesy of several of our students), we packed up, cleaned up and trucked down the hill to meet our bus. Because of road construction, it was unable to make it up the hill to pick us up…

We arrived in Scarperia and the Residence Mugello, a hotel not from from the historic center of the town. What a contrast to our “primitive” accommodations of the last two days — suites of doubles, triples and quads with bathrooms ensuite and a swimming pool! We checked in and had several hours to shower, sit poolside or explore the town some more. Scarperia, by the way, is one of the four leading centers of traditional knife-making in Italy.

At 2:00, we met Cristina who works at the Palazzo di Vicari which houses Scarperia’s knife museum. She gave us a private, guided tour of the palazzo and included a great deal of information about the history of the town. The knife museum was fascinating.

We then gathered for dinner before heading over to the medieval games where we had amazing seats in the bleachers that surrounded the Piazza Vicari. Four neighborhoods compete in the games (there were previously semi-finals and finals to determine which neighborhoods compete in the final games.) Viola (purple), Rossa (pink), Bianchi (white) and Nero (black) were the final competitors. The remaining bleachers were divided into quarters to accommodate each of the teams’ passionate fans.

The events in the games are:
1) knife-throwing
2) brick-walking
3) barrel-racing
4) tug of way
5) pole climbing

Each team had 6 men, obviously chosen for their skills on each of the events. At the end of the competition, there was a three-way tie that was broken with a second round of knife-throwing. Viola was victorious!

Interspersed between the games were trumpets, horns and bandoliers (flag bearers) who performed precise drills. The games were witnessed by a stage full of “nobility” in astonishingly beautiful robes and dressed of velvet, pearls, and brocade.

The games were over by 12:30 and the town continued to celebrate into the night. These people have clearly been doing this for 7 centuries and have got it down. This was a event never to be forgotten!

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