An Interesting Revival at Pisa Visitors to Pisa during the month of May might have seen a city divided against itself. A spirit of friendly rivalry exists during that month between residents in the districts north and south of the River Arno, a rivalry which grows in intensity as May 30, the date of the mock battle for the bridge, approaches.
The " Giuoco del Ponte" dates back to the fourteenth century, but the costumes worn by the participants are those of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the most flourishing period in the history of the city.
On the morning of the eventful day the inhabitants of Pisa were astir early. The fighters, armed with narrow wooden shields, paraded through the gaily decorated streets. Excitement was at fever pitch and each team was wildly exhorted to " do or die" for the honour of its side. Finally, they took their places in the squares at either end of the bridge, where tents surrounded with palisades had been erected for the leaders.
The Fight The game began with a challenge; one of the commanders sent a drummer to the bridge to call the troops to battle. The opposite faction took up the call. A herald, escorted by two gentlemen, then crossed the bridge and being escorted to the tent of the rival commander, delivered the challenge. The herald and escort returned and the fighters were drawn up on either side of the bridge. At a signal from the " Assistenti dcll'Orologio " (timekeepers) both sides rushed to the centre and the fight began.
If there were any rules to the game they were not apparent to the onlooker. For three-quarters-of-an-hour a seething mass surged backwards and forwards, each side endeavouring to push its opponent to the end of the bridge.
At the end of the fight the squads returned to their respective encampments and the captain of the victorious party was presented with a shield. The day closed with a procession of peace in which the combined forces took, ;Art.