Photo Essay: Medieval Reenactment

Senza moglie a lato, l’uomo non e beato.
(Without a wife by his side, a man is not blessed.)
~Italian Proverb

Every year, Italians all over the country participate in a variety of medieval reenactments. Calendimaggio is an annual three-day festival in Assisi where the townspeople reenact the conflict between two areas of the town. In Siena, the annual palio is a series of horse races around the town’s main piazza. In Sulmona, the giostra is a medieval joust where participants representing different neighborhoods compete. Pettorano sul Gizio, my grandparents’ village, reenacts the marriage of Margarita De Cordero to Restaino Cantelmo in 1319.

Stefania
Stefania and one of her creations

I love the costumes. When I was in Sulmona in May, my dear friend Novelia took me to meet a seamstress who designs and sews many of the costumes used in the reenactments all over Italy. Stefania Bonitatibus gets her inspiration from books, and her creations are historically accurate. I was so excited that she let me try one on.

Moi
Yours truly in one of Stefania’s creations

Pettorano held its annual reenactment last weekend, and my good friend Donato Ferrara has graciously given me permission to use share his photos so you can see both the wonderful medieval costumes and scenes from the reenactment. I hope you enjoy them.

Reenactment
Margarita in the wedding reenactment ©Donato Ferrara

Does the dress look familiar?  Donato took this photo of “Margarita” last year.  I should have had the headdress.

Reenactment Pettorano sul Gizio
The wedding reenactment ©Donato Ferrara

Even the children participate.

Reenactment Pettorano sul Gizio
The wedding reenactment ©Donato Ferrara

In medieval times, the people loved wearing rich fabrics decorated with jewels, furs, and embroidery.

Reenactment Pettorano sul Gizio
The wedding reenactment ©Donato Ferrara

Color is very important in the costumes.  Red was a symbol of royalty,

The Reenactment Pettoarno sul Gizio
Royal men in the wedding reenactment ©Donato Ferrara

and black symbolized austere elegance and power. Since black dye was expensive and difficult to produce, only the wealthy could afford it.

Stefania
Stefania pointing out the intricate embroidery on a satin dress

Custom dictated that young people wear green. (Note the embroidery work on this dress.)

The Reenactment Pettorano sul Gizio
Margarita and Restaino in the wedding reenactment ©Donato Ferrara

Blue represented loyalty and spirituality, and the darker hues represented fidelity in marriage.

The reenactment Pettorano sul Gizio
The wedding guests at the reenactment ©Donato Ferrara

Gold was an indication of wealth.

The Reenactment Pettorano sul Gizio
Servants in the wedding reenactment ©Donato Ferrara

Beiges and greys identified the lower classes as did the plain cut and simple and rough fabrics of their clothing.

The Reenactment Pettorano sul Gizio
The minstrel perform at the wedding reenactment ©Donato Ferrara

Medieval minstrels earned their living playing instruments (lutes, harps, etc) and singing. Most often they wrote their own songs about chivalry and love. They also could perform acrobatics, juggle, and dance.

Reenactment
The wedding party at the reenactment ©Donato Ferrara

Grazie mille, Donato, per le foto. Sono bellisime. (Many thanks to Donato for letting me use his photos. They’re wonderful.)

I hope the photos have intrigued you. I invite you to check out a video Donato made of the reenactment by clicking here. There are others on his youtube page if you are interested.

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