A rollicking joust on horseback takes place in the beautiful town of Sulmona, in Abruzzo. The Renaissance-era tradition is re-enacted with detailed precision each year, to keep the city's history and civic pride alive. The festa, which takes place the last week of July, pits the seven districts against each other in a jousting match, a throw-back to the days of knights on horseback who helped protect the city from invaders. Their military-like maneuvers were practiced twice a year to keep their skills sharp, riding with lances that had chalk on the ends to check their accuracy.

Today, the pomp and circumstance are preserved with an opulent parade of participants in epoch garb, exhibits, tours of historic buildings, banquets, and the big event - the joust itself. There is a formal presentation of the Palio, the hand-painted banner designed by a different international artist every year, awarded to the winner, who is graded based on speed and accuracy. Watching the procession and the jousting match is a incredible experience.

The backdrop of lovely Sulmona with its palaces and beautiful monuments gives the Giostra its epic feel, and is a wonderful experience, especially because this is a less-known event, without the crowds to impede your fun.

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