This is an excerpt from the book “Venice and the Veneto“.
Partita a Scacchi (Marostica)
Every even year, in September, a game of chess using live pieces is played. The tradition was started in 1454 when two noblemen, Renaldo D’Anganaro and Vieri da Vallanora fell in love with the beautiful Lionora, daughter of the local lord, Taddeo Parisio. As was the custom at that time, they challenged each other to a duel to win the hand of Lionora.
The Lord of Marostica, not wanting to make an enemy of either suitor or lose them in a duel, forbade the encounter.
Instead he decreed that the two rivals would play a chess game, and the winner would have the hand of Lionora. The loser of the chess game would also join the family, through marrying Oldrada. The game took place on the square in front of the Lower Castle with supporters carrying the noble ensigns of Whites and Blacks, in the presence of the Lord, his noble daughter, the Lords of Angarano and Vallonara, the court and the entire town population.
The Lord also decided the challenge would be honoured by an exhibition of armed men, foot-soldiers and knights, with fireworks and dances and music. This event is now faithfully reenacted on the square of Marostica every second Friday, Saturday and Sunday of September of “even” years. The orders are still given to the cast today in the dialect of the “Serenissima Republic of Venezia”.
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Concerti in Villa (Vicenza)
The Veneto region around Vicenza opens up its villas or their grounds for a series of summertime concerts and performances. From famous masterpieces like Palladio’s La Rotonda to little-known Renaissance villas, the settings are memorable and the music is sweet. June and July.
Opera in Arena (Verona)
La Scala in Milan and La Fenice in Venice may be more famous, but few opera stages in Italy have a more natural dramatic setting than Verona’s ancient Roman amphitheater.
Every season they put on Aida as they have since 1913, surrounded by other operatic masterpieces by Giuseppe Verdi.
For a huge 2,000-year-old sports stadium open to the sky, the Arena enjoys surprisingly good acoustics.
Late June through August.
Festival Shakespeariano (Verona)
Verona mixes its two powerhouse attractions — ancient Roman heritage and Shakespearean fame — in a theater festival of Shakespeare’s plays (along with ballets and concerts, from classical to jazz) put on in the garden-set ruins of the Teatro Romano ancient theater. Since 1998, they’ve invited the Royal Shakespeare Company to come and perform (naturally) Romeo and Juliet and Two Gentlemen of Verona, as well as other plays, in English.