Marostica is the home of chess. And every two years, you can witness a truly unique living chess game…

marostica chess
A view of Marostica’s famous “Piazza degli Scacchi”. Ph. Pierre Metivier on flickr (flic.kr/p/5fKKxz)

Festivals and local events are the mirror of specific folklore and 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 the Vicenza province, 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, and reproduce what has now become a famous legend known on an international scale.

The legend

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Marostica’s Castello Superiore (David Nicholls/flickr)

Marostica’s chess game aims at bringing to life a legend recounted 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 they 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 hasn’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.

The event

This fascinating and colorful game of chess takes place in the Piazza degli Scacchi, the chess square, on the second weekend of September, on even years. The price of a ticket ranges from 30 to 80 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 to Milan. After Grisignano di Zocco, take the A31 “Valdastico” in direction Piovene Rocchette. Exit Dueville and follow the SS248 Marosticana- Schiavonesca to Marostica-Bassano del Grappa.

If you come from Milan take the A4 motorway to Venice. After Vicenza Est, take the A31 “Valdastico” in direction Piovene Rocchette. Exit at Dueville and follow the SS248 Marosticana- Schiavonesca to Marostica-Bassano del Grappa.

If you come from Padova, take the SS47 in direction of Bassano del Grappa and follow directions for Marostica.

If you come from Trento and Bolzano take the SS47 in direction of Bassano del Grappa and follow  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.

Marostica Castello Inferiore
Marostica’s Castello Inferiore (David Nicholls/flickr)

By Anna De Filippo, edited by Francesca Bezzone

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