THE Chess Match

October 7, 2009 / Events
Marostica, Veneto
marosticascacchi1In this tiny medieval city near Verona, on the second weekend of September every even numbered year, a human chess tournament is held re-enacting the story of two young noblemen, Rinaldo D’Angarano and Vieri da Vallonara who in 1454 vowed to fight to the death for the hand of the beautiful Lionora.

You can almost hear her father, Taddeo Parisio, wise Lord of Marostica’s castle, insisting “Now now boys. Must you really? So messy. How about…hmm.. a nice chess match?! All present say ‘Aye’?”

Sure enough, the princess’s hand to the winner. And the loser? Hitched to her younger sister Oldrada (beats death any day), so not too shabby a deal. Presumably everyone lived happily ever after.

With parades, flag throwing, music, dancing and elegant medieval costumes, the festival, with over 550 characters, lasts about 2 hours.

Dramatically, as the sky darkens a flame is lit and fire travels around the piazza till a burning, glowing outline of the chessboard appears before you, blazes and is extinguished.

marosticascacchi2Majestically, from the lower castle the human “chess pieces,” enter: kings and queens, pawns, bishops, knights on horseback and castles. The young rivals sit at a raised table just off the large board and “play” the game while live chess pieces act out their moves based on that very first match. All the drama of the checkmate is felt as the black bishop takes the white queen and the white castle moves in for the kill! The evening ends with a dazzling fireworks display from the tower of the castle!

Not a bad way to settle a dispute, don’t you think? If only our own leaders were so wise. (Scroll down for more photos…)



Rosemary and Bob Connelly

by Rosemary and Bob Connelly

Artists who fulfilled their dream to “Live Cheap and Make Art” in Italy. Their website showcases their watercolors and photographs.

5 Responses to “THE Chess Match”

  1. I always enjoy seeing the various festivities and events that takes place in Italy. I was in Marostica back in 2006 during the day and walk around the “chess” floor. Marostica has a great market day too.

  2. I’m guessing this event takes place on Saturday evening of that second weekend? Does anyone know ? I am planning a trip in Sept.2010 and would love to attend.It must be glorious to behold.

  3. Sa1sachica

    I would love to see this – either Saturday or Sunday show…Anyone have recommendations for seating? Thanks!


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