The human chess game in Marostica
Festivals and local events are the mirror of specific folklore; they always reflect the tradition and culture of a place. In Italy there are hundreds, if not thousands, of towns that want to express their local features through events. However, Marostica, in province of Vicenza, perhaps has exceeded all types of expectations.
This Northern town is renowned for being the città degli scacchi, the town of chess, and it celebrates its name with an original event: la partita a scacchi a personaggi viventi, a chess match with living pawns. Hundreds of people wear typical costumes, in order to reproduce what has now become a famous legend known on an international scale.
Marostica's chess game aims at bringing to life a legend told in a text of Mirko Vucetich and set in the period when Venice's Podestà, Taddeo Parisio, was sent from the Serenissima to Marostica.In the 15th century, more precisely in 1454, two local gentlemen Rinaldo D'Angarano and Vieri da Vallonara, challenged each other for Lionora, a woman they both loved. They planned a duel, but the Lord of the Marostica's castle, father of Lionora, decided hey should play a game of chess instead. At the end of the game, Lionora was to marry the winner, while her younger sister, Oldrada, was to be given to the loser.
The game was well-organized, the two teams divided in blacks and whites and the town celebrated with dances and fireworks.
Even if a lot of time has passed, the event haven't lost its charm: the game lasts for about two hours and more than 550 people move according to orders still given in the dialect of the Republic of Venice.
The event is so special that the whole team of people participating in it has often been invited abroad to perform the game, considered unique not only because of its peculiarity, but also because it managed to maintain alive such an amazing tradition for so long.
This fascinating and colorful game of chess takes place in the Piazza degli Scacchi, the chess square, on the second weekend of September, in even years. The 2012 edition will be played from the 7th of September to 9th of September; on Friday and Saturday, the game will start at 9 p.m, while on Sunday it will be played at 5 p.m and 9 p.m.
The price of a ticket ranges from 10 to 70 euro, depending on the position and place of the seat.
How to get to Marostica
by car: -if you come from Venice, take the A4 motorway in direction of Milan. After Grisignano di Zocco take the A31 "Valdastico" in direction of Piovene Rocchette. Exit Dueville and follow the SS248 Marosticana- Schiavonesca, in direction of Marostica-Bassano del Grappa.
- If you come from Milan take the A4 motorway in direction of Venice. After Grisignano di Zocco, take the A31 "Valdastico" in direction of Piovene Rocchette. Exit at Dueville and follow the SS248 Marosticana- Schiavonesca in direction of Marostica-Bassano del Grappa.
- if you come from Padova, take the SS47 in direction of Bassano del Grappa and follow the directions for Marostica
- if you come from Trento and Bolzano take the SS47 in direction of Bassano del Grappa and follow the directions for Marostica- Vicenza.
You can also reach Marostica by train or by bus and get off at the station of Bassano del Grappa. The nearest airports are Venice, Verona, Treviso and Milano.
Watching human pawns playing chess is an out-of-the-ordinary experience and the atmosphere becomes magic and colourful; so just take a seat and enjoy the game!