Marostica: the chess village

2 minutes to read

Marostica is a medieval village of almost 14.000 inhabitants in the province of Vicenza, located with the Veneto plain on one side and green hills to the north.. It is well known for the surrounding perimeter walls, for the chess games performed by living people as well as for the hills where the cherry of Marostica grows. Due to the mild and sunny hills, it has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The town was fortified by the Romans and, as evidence of it, there is a “roman vestigia”.

Marostica's principal tourist sights are the two castles, one at the top of the hill above town, the other in the main square, Piazza Castello. In the square itself you can see the chessboard laid out in paving stones, and admire the view up to the upper castle (Castello Superiore). The lower castle, the Castello Inferiore, guards the main entrance through the town walls. For four hundred years Marostica was ruled by Venice, and its dominion is recorded by a statue of the lion of St. Mark, Venice's symbol, in the piazza. There are a few interesting buildings and churches in Marostica which you can see as you wander the historic town centre. The best thing to do though, which will tempt visitors from the moment they see the town, is to climb to the upper castle. There is a road if you can't face the uphill walk, but if you travel by car you will miss the lovely green hillside. The castle is mostly ruined, but part of it houses an attractive restaurant which has a picturesque outdoors terrace and a garden within the castle walls. The view over town is great, but I wouldn't recommend climbing to the battlements if you're nervous of heights.

The second weekend of September, in the central square of the town, takes place the traditional chess game performed by living pawns dressed with sumptuous antique costumes of the ‘400 – and over 500 appearances and multicoloured banners. Since 1493, an ancient tradition as a challenge between duelists to win the heart of the beautiful Lionora, Taddeo Parisio Castellano’s daughter of Marostica. “The two noble warriors Rinaldo d’Angarano and Vieri from Vallonata, challenged to a duel but the Castellano forbade the clash by referring to Cangrande della Scala’s decree stating that Lionora would have been married by rivals who had won the noble chess game”. For al those fond of Historical reenactment, every second Sunday of the month throughout the year, takes place il “Castello che rivive” (riliving castle), a 1454 performance with ladies, knights, kings and queens wearing period costumes. In the present day the entire event starts with music and flag shows followed withchess game played by human chess pieces in black and white medieval costume including duly decked up small horses to represent the knights. At the end of the game the winner gets the hand of Lionora and the loser gets her younger sister Oldrada. The pageant is a big cultural event in the town and and is a big draw with tourist.

The author

Eleonora Ruzzenenti

Eleonora Ruzzenenti

I am Eleonora, from Italy. I share with you a frenetic passion for travelling and an insatiable curiosity for different cultures. On itinari, you will find my stories about Italy.

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