Mediaeval Fire at Castiglione di Garfagnana

Mediaeval feste (festivals) come in all shapes and sizes in Italy. I feel there should be a good mediaeval festa guide based on three main criteria:

  1. Suitability of ambience and location.
  2. Variety of entertainment.
  3. Catering quality.

I have no doubt that the best mediaeval festa we’ve ever been to is the one at Volterra which scores very highly on all three criteria .(See my post at There are, however, some pretty good mediaeval festivals in our area: Nozzano, Coreglia Antelminelli and, of course, our own local one at Gombereto which does score very well on entertainment, all come to mind.

We’d never been to the one at Castiglione di Garfagnana so we decided to give it a try this year. Castiglione is probably the most picturesque town in the whole Garfagnana and certainly the best fortified one, with a formidable set of mediaeval walls equalling some of the best in Italy.   The town is also famous for its enactment of the Passion which I‘ve described in several posts including one at

I give full marks to Castiglione for location and ambience. It’s an unbeatable place for a mediaeval night out with its turrets, machicolations, walls and towers, its narrow cobbled alleys and magnificent views. We didn’t try the catering at Castiglione as we’d previously savoured a very convivial meal of tortelli (a sort of Garfagnana-style ravioli) at Cardoso’s sagra of the same name (highly recommended).

Castiglione’s entertainment was largely confined to fire-eating and snakes giving the children especially great peals of delight. (I’m not too sure about the snakes, however.)

In case you were short of a mace and ball or needed some repair to your chain-mail there were several stalls able to cater for your needs of self-preservation or, for the ladies, pretty adornments.

I think this person might have failed to pay his equivalent of a mediaeval ENEL bill:

08072016 156

We arrived at night so it was a bit difficult to photograph things. My advice would be to get to a medieval festa while there still some daylight so you can take in some of the sights.

The climax of the evening at Castiglione was, without doubt, the splendid fireworks display. Italians are masters of pyrotechnics and the show over the town’s turrets was quite awesome.

How many medieval feste have you been to? Are there any you’d like to recommend to us? We’d be delighted to know.







3 thoughts on “Mediaeval Fire at Castiglione di Garfagnana

  1. What types of snakes are those? I’m happy just to see them in photos. The fireworks look quite beautiful. But, try telling that to the local dogs, eh?

  2. Pingback: Of Mediaeval Festivals – From London to Longoio (and Lucca and Beyond) Part Three

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