This morning we left for our one and only overnight trip of the program, returning to Scarperia by public bus for Diotto. “Diotto” means “the eighth” and September 8 marks the day the town was founded (now 705 years ago) and the traditional change of the Viccar, the “mayor” of the town.

We checked in to our hotel upon arriving and everyone was given several hours to relax, sit by the pool, walk around the town (no traces of the Renaissance Village we had visited last Sunday) and have lunch. We met again at 3:30 to walk back into the historic center to meet Cristina who was our guide through the Viccar’s Palace and the Knife Museum.

Scarperia had a very special relationship with Florence (the only other town that was allowed to use the Florentine gigilio — lily or fleur du lis — as its emblem. Because Scarperia emerged on the main thoroughfare between Florence and Bologna, the knife-making industry became the economic mainstay of the town as travelers needed protection from thieves as they made their journey. The Knife Museum (Museo del Coltello) contained many examples of knives, not only from Scarperia, but from some of the other knife-making capitals in Italy.

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After the museum, there was time for shopping before we met for dinner at Il Torrione. Multiple courses of antipasti, pizza and pasts prepared us for the main event: the Pallio.

We made it to our seats in the stands (along with inhabitants from the four neighborhoods who had made it to the final competition): Pink, Red, Black and Yellow (Rossa, Rosa, Nero and Giallo). The events included knife-throwing, tug-of-war, brick-waslking, pole-climbing and barrel-racing. All events were tied to medieval artistan trades.

Nero, who had won last year’s event, proved a formidable competitor again this year and became the victor for the 2011 games.

We wandered back to the hotel. Early check-out tomorrow morning so we can get on the road for three stops on our way back to Florence,