Human Chess Game; Marostica Italy
Situated in the foothills, just half an hour's drive from Vicenza and a few minutes away from Bassano del Grappa, Marostica is surrounded by the ancient walls of its castles, as if it wants to symbolize its discreet elegance. This finds its moment of greatest expression and renown in the world famous Chess Game.
Every September of an even numbered year, this human chess game is played on the square of Marostica. it occurs every second Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The story of the Chess Game dates back to 1454 when Marostica belonged to the Venetian Republic. It happened that two noblemen, Rinaldo D'Angarano and Vieri da Vallonara, fell in love with the beautiful Lionora, daughter of Taddeo Parisio, the Lord of Marostica's castle. As was the custom in that time, they challenged each other to a duel to win the hand of Lionora.
The Lord, not wanting to make an enemy of either suitor or lose them in a duel, forbade the encounter in conformity with Venetian Law. He decided the two rivals should play a chess game: Lionora would take the winner as her husband. He furthermore decided that the loser would in any case join his family, marrying Oldrada, the younger sister. The game took place on the square in front of the Lower Castle, with armed living persons carrying the ensigns of Whites and Blacks. It played in the presence of the Lord, his daughter, the Lords of Angarano and Vallonara, the noble court, and the entire population.
The Lord also decided the challenge should be honored by an exhibition of armed men, with fireworks and dances and sounds. So the armed men entered the field: archers and halberdiers, foot-soldiers and knights. Then came the Lord and his court with an anxious Lionora, who was secretly in love with one of the two rivals. With them were Lionora's faithful nurse, noblemen and their ladies, the herald, the master of arms, falconers, pageboys, maidens, standard holders, musicians, farmers and their wives; the Whites and Blacks with their kings and queens, rooks and knights, bishops and pawns: and the two suitors, who decided the moves.
After the victory, fireworks and music were offered according to the Lord's orders. As Lady Lionora had secretly informed the population, should the winner be her beloved, the Lower Castle would be illuminated by white light, so that everybody could share their joy.
This event is repeated today just like the first time, in a framework of sumptuous costumes, multicolor banners, martial parades, and exquisite elegance. The orders are still given to characters and cast today in the dialect of the "Serenissima Republic of Venezia." A note of unique courtesy pervades everything; it inspires the whole re-evocation of this ancient story which, from the darkness of remote times, still lives today as a miracle of fantasy.
Here is a great video showing the game being played! http://youtu.be/riNnikGFcf8
Write up was taken from: http://www.bed-breakfast-italy.com/medieval/chess.htm