One of the highlights of the program: a return to the city of Scarperia and the Palio. This is the culminating event of Diotto in which four neighborhoods, through multiple previous elimination rounds, enter the tribunal (the piazza of the Palazzo del Vicaro) to compete in medieval games.


We boarded the public bus at 1:00 and found ourselves in Scarperia shortly after 2:00. After checking in to the Residence Mugello, we were free until 7:00 when we would meet for dinner at Il Tiorione (“the big tower”) for dinner. Our good friend, Caterina, was able to persuade the city council to allow us to attend the Palio and we were offered possibly the best seats in the house.


Dinner was fantastic: antipasti, salad, two types of pasta and pizza! At 9:00, we heard the beat of drums, so headed for the tribunal and took our seats in the piazza. Bandieri (banner carriers), drummers, and trumpeters ushered in the court made up of women in beautiful Renaissance dresses and men in, wait for it, tights. The rest of the tribunal was divided into the four neighborhoods who had earned the right to compete: Neri (black), Marone (maroon), Bianchi (white), and Rosso (pink). Bianchi were the winners in 2012, Neri were the favored, but Marone definitely had the rowdiest fans (and an overabundance of smoke devices.)


Events include knife throwing (in which Tomasso’s cousin was by far the best), tug-of-war, barrel-racing, and pole-climbing. Neri, as predicted, was victorious. After the games, two amazing events:

  1. Alex climbed the pole to within a few feet from the top (who knew?)
  2. An immense lightening and thunderstorm arrived just as we reached the hotel. One bolt came as close as to scare the dickens out of all of us and we lost electricity in several of the rooms.

Scarperia never disappoints