Marostica

Chess game performed by people in costume

Marostica is a village located in the Province of Vicenza. It is known for its celebration of chess games with living characters, for the important wall perimeter and for the renowned hills where the famous Marostica cherry is grown. Since prehistoric times, for its mild and sunny hills, it has favored the settlement of human nuclei. The city was fortified by the Romans, whose testimonies are still read today thanks to some still evident stone remains.

The defensive system that surrounds the old town rests upon two castles: the Superiore (superior) and the Inferiore (inferior) connected with each other by walls built along the slope of the Pausolino’s hill. The system dates back to Roman times and was built by the Scaligeri between 1311 and 1387. The Castello Inferiore or “low Castle” and the Castello Superiore were built by the Scaligero Cangrande. The walls and the attractive “pivellini and torrioni” were built in 1372 by Consignorio. Not only the Scaligeri provided for the fortified system, but also for the organization of residential and commercial areas of the city by changing the winding road into the current “Via Mazzini” connecting the porte (doors) Breganzina and Bassanese.

The center of Marostica is the part in front of Castello Inferiore marked with houses and the Loggia Comunale. The Castello Inferiore, has a quadrilateral side floor plan of about 40 meters, with balconies on the courtyard, a well and a massive keep (strong central tower). It was damaged under the Austrian domination and recovered in 1935. The Castello Superiore or “Rocca”, is a fortress designed as a separate unit with two courtyards and two wells; it was the Castellano’s house and garrison. Today only two of the four angular towers are visible.

From 1404 to 1797, the city fell under the dominion of the Republic of Venice, to be later on transferred under the domination of Napoleon Bonaparte and then to the Austrian Empire until 1818. The walls are developed for almost two kilometers with a structure of about 2 meters and 10 meters in height. In addition to the great towers of Porta Bassano and Porta Breganze (doors), on the walls there are 20 torricelle (towers), some of them turned into housing. At the center of the walls, the square which overlooks the Castello Inferiore (castle) and the rebuilt Palazzo Doglione (palace). In 1383 was built the Chapel, today the Church of Sant’Antonio Abate enlarged in the fifteenth century and annexed to the convent of Minori Osservanti (monks). The Chiesa del Carmine (church) is placed on the high churchyard and, on the background, steps onto Via Sant’Antonio of the seventeenth century.

Celebrations of Marostica village

On the first Sunday of June, the city celebrates the “Cherry Festival”. The second weekend of September, in the central square of the town, the traditional “Chess Game” takes place with living pawns dressed in sumptuous costumes from the fifteenth century, over 500 extras and multicolored banners. Since 1493, an ancient tradition born as a challenge between duelists to conquer the heart of the beautiful Lionora, daughter of Taddeo Parisio Castellano di Marostica. The two noble warriors Rinaldo d’Angarano and Vieri da Vallonata, challenged each other to a duel but the Castellano forbade the clash by referring to an edict (ordinance) of Cangrande della Scala, and therefore decided that Lionora would be married to that of the rivals she had won a game of noble chess. For fans of historical re-enactments, every second Sunday of the month throughout the year, there is the “reviving Castle”, a representation of 1454 in period costumes between Ladies, Knights, Kings and Queens.