San Jacopo ed i bambini

Primary School Carradori,Pistoia Classes  4° A and B – A.S. 2005-06
S. Jacopo Patron  of Pistoia and the  ”Giostra dell’Orso”


25 July: It’s a Holiday in Pistoia ! It’s  S. Jacopo’s day. The PATRON of our City .Who was  S. Jacopo?Where did he live?
How did he become  Protector of  Pistoia? How was he celebrated in the past? And what about now? We kids  of Carradori School, have  tried to answer all these questions looking for  :historical records, documentation, paintings, artifacts, squares, museums,news from the Library…In this activity has been valuable our teachers’ guide accompanied by Mariella,  the expert of  ”Pistoia Ragazzi” . We’ve written a lot with the pc,we’ve drawn reproducing   artwork and figuring  scenes from the past . But… let’s start from the beginning of our  interesting research!

At the museum
A miracle
”Pagar’ a tanto haldo”


S. Jacopo in Castellare
Who was S. Jacopo?
The ancient celebrations in honor  of S. Jacopo
Special lunches
The fair 
S.Jacopo’s Palio
The Palio
The Quarters
Giostra dell’orso
The religious Parade

At the museum 

The first stop of our route  has been  the   Civic Museum.  Inside it’s guarded the oldest representation of S.Jacopo,dated from the end of the XII century. 

It’s a marble bas-relief which represents S.G.iacomo’s mission  : Jesus who instructs his Apostle  to preach  the Gospel.

When they created this sculpture ,S.Jacopo was not yet the Patron. Cruising the  Museum, we saw more paintings  where is represented S.Jacopo. In the Sacred Conversation  by Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio (Florence1483-1561) the Saint appears at the right hand of S. Sebastian while holding the  Gospel.In other tables S.Jacopo is represented  with the pilgrim’s attributes , by the artist Gerino Gerini (Pistoia 1480-post 1531) and Giovanni Battista Volponi (Pistoia 1489-1561). In the paintings the Saint is always portrayed with  his  cape, the patteran and the cockle,  a long and heavy stick  with the pommel and the sharp  in metal.

What really touched us has been the painting  of ”Madonna della Pergola”, which depicts a  Sacred Conversation between  the Virgin in Humility and the Saints  Bartolomeo, Jacopo and Giovannino, created by  the painter  Bernardino Detti , in  1523.Here  S. Jacopo holds the cockle from which dangles the shell.

The shell,according to pilgrims’ use  , became the badge of those who travelled to Compostella.. The shells were collected on the beaches of Galizia, in Spain  and they were used to drink at the sources. On  S. Jacopo’s hat we have also noticed a long hedgehog’s spine ,the sign of lead of  Loreto’s Sanctuary and the squared badge , probably in tissue or paper.We have understood that, since 1145 Pistoia became a place of pilgrimage,when a relic of the Saint was taken there. So it moved his representation as pilgrim with the cockle,the pipkin and  the hat. 

Moving forward our tour, on the trail of our Patron, we came in the lobby of the Town Hall.There, we ran into a stone sculpture portraying S.Jacopo with his hat ,his sandals,his little cape called ”pellegrina” or ”sanrocchino” anf the shells pinned on the robe and on the hat. He didn’t have the long stick but we could tell it was because there was a litte hole  down. We have walked into a time warp : what a thrill!

Leonardo di Ser Giovanni
Vocazione di S. Jacopo

We also want to retrace the pilgrim trail . We are moving towards S. Jacopo’s Chapel . We’re in front of  the side door of the Cathedral which was defined sacred door or pilgrims’ door. Here the bishop blessed those who started the  pilgrimage. This door is covered by a lintel decked with beautiful snatches ,lettering this : O you who come, learn what Jesus’ Church teaches ,whoever you are,avoid evil,be good and you’ll live forever.  The Chapel which housed the altar with S.Jacopo’s relic  had built by the Bishop Atto inside the Cathedral with an iron railing, where there are traces even now in the first columns of the right aisle. The bottom  was closed by a wall,in front of the silvery altar. It was probably from the portal of the Chapel that Atto received,from Baldo and Mediovillano, the box containing the Apostle’s relic. Inside the Cathedral we have observed the three briquettes which represent the departure of the two pilgrims, their return with the delivery of the sacred relic to the Bishop and his glory  between two angels. S. Jacopo’s Chapel became a place of pilgrimage for who was unable to face the long trip to Compostella but also for the pilgrims who came back or went to Compostella. For the first the visit was a thanksgiving for the good  result of the travel, for the second one it was guaranteed protection for the long journey. The Chapel stayed there for many centuries, until Scipione de’ Ricci was proclaimed Bishop of Pistoia. In 1786 he gathered a Synod (gathering of priests chaired by the Bishop ) in Pistoia, when it was abolished  the workship of many relics, including that of S. Jacopo and were closed many  churches.

Leonardo di Ser Giovanni -Predicazione di S. Jacopo

Inside the Cathedral our guide has shown us  the most important artwork of S.Jacopo’s  cult:

The silvery altar dedicated to the patron. Now is guarded in the Judgment’s Chapeland it’s one of the most important work of medieval jewelry. It was realised in successive phases, from1287 to1456, with precious figures and enamels brilliantly colored.  The artist  Giorgio Pisano created in  1353 the great sculpture of  San Jacopo on is throne, the first shrine in the central niche. The saint is represented on the throne with all the attributes of pilgrimage: the book ,the saddlebag and the hat. In the altar frontal ,made by the artist Andrea di Jacopo d’Ognabene and in the frontal side created by the florentine goldsmith Leonardo di Ser Giovanni we have noted many briquettes concerning S.Jacopo’s life. The guide told us that the briquettes were intended to illustrate, visually,the content of the chants read during the solemn eucharistic celebration, especially in the period between the Eve and S.Jacopo’s eighth, which included the celebration  of 25,in memory of the Apostle. We wonder how beautiful the Chapel  was? With the frescoed walls and this  great altar completely silver gold.We loved so much some briquettes  that we tried to reproduce them with the cantilever technique. 
Andrea of Jacopo d’Ognibene
                   Martyrdom and glory of S. Jacopo

Leonardo of Ser Giovanni
” S. Jacopo’s body moved to Spain by his disciples”  

Before leaving,we have seen in a bezel,a fresco portraying Christ between S.Jacopo and S.Giovanni Evangelist.In the fresco the Apostle has the Book in his hand and is identifiable for the imprint : So expert now on recognizing our patron,we have spent time on a stack of holy water where you can see the torsos of four Apostles: Jacopo, Giovanni, Pietro and Paolo. We recognized immediately S. Jacopo, because he had the niche on the shoulder. His head was the most worn because touched by who knows how many pilgrims. We just got out and we  have focused on  another beautiful fresco. It  represents  S. Jacopo on the throne ,dressed like in Jesus’ time, protector of  pilgrimage to  Compostella and Patron of  Pistoia which is  on his knee. It was painted in  1582 by Giovanni di Bastiano Balducci, under the Cathedral’s porch , at the entrance of the ancient vestry of S. Jacopo. One last goodbye to the Cathedral Square and to S.Jacopo which guide our path  from the Sky.

We arrived at the eave of Ceppo’s Hospital. One of the briquettes which represent ” The seven works of mercy”, the one who illustrates the precept of  welcoming the pilgrims, shows S.Jacopo too. Here he is traveler wearing the robe and taking on the fatigue of the travel.



A miracle…

When S. Jacopo’s relic arrived in Pistoia, a young girl from  Piteccio who was in her orchard , saw a dove fluttering here and there. Drawn to the grace and the docility of the bird that girl wished she could get it . To succed , she thought to invoke S.Jacopo that anybody talked about in these days . -Dear Saint – begged the kid- if it’s true that you work miracles, please let me see one . Let me catch this lovely dove… All of a sudden the bird flew on her shoulder and followed the girl all the way home where it stayed never leaving. The fact seemed a miracle for everybody. It was talk about around and the rumor hit the minister of the country’s Church.
 This good priest thought that the Bishop Atto would have welcomed  the dove, regarded almost sacred. He persuaded the lucky girl to offer it to S.Apostle’s altar in the Cathedral. So the dove  stayed in that ”sanctuary” chapel  dedicated to the cult of the Saint,flying around the altar without being diturbed by the chanting or by  the get in and out of the people.Unfortunately, after a while, some pilgrims started getting a few feathers of the gentle dove ,to bring them home as souvenir and  sacred things. It got sdo bad that the poor dove died but its little body was respected and mummified. It was kept for long periods, hung on one of the several lamps , in front of the altar.

Pagar’ a tanto haldo





On the Cathedral’s roof thera are two marble sculptures :the one on the left represents  S.Zeno ,the right one S.Jacopo with his  pilgrim’s robe ,but every year,for his celebration on 25 July, is dressed with a reed velvet cloack. The people of Pistoia loved the   Saint Patron so they started  picturing a S.Jacopo who looked like them. Fot that reason began the legend of his cape.
S.Jacopo is a farmer  who comes from afar, that’s San Jacopo Gallizia, isn’t him? I heard he was also a scamp…did you know?… He never paid anyone . One day He went to a farmer and he bought a couple of calves. He said -I’ll pay  when it’s hot.” If you came for S.Jacopo I will pay you”. This farmer gave him the calves and S.Jacopo went away. When S.Jacopo’s day arrived the farmer went to him asking for his cash but San Jacopo wore the cape pretending to be cold.  The farmer said ” Oh!…It’s hot and it’ San Jacopo’s celebration ,I want my money” But S.Jacopo said: -Yes, but I’m not hot …Don’t you see that I’m still wearing the cape? So He never paid the calves and for that reason on 25 July the Saint is dressed with the cape.


San Jacopo in Castellare

In a rainy morning , we went out to look for new tracks with Mariella’s guide .
We ended up in a  rising narrow street,with eroded  stones suited to horses’ steps . We were on  “Sdrucciolo del Castellare”, close to Ceppo’s Hospital . According to experts  “Castellare” comes from the latin word “Castrum”, which means fortress,camp.Inside the  Castellare, in the past equipped with towers,guard stations and emergency exits ,there was also a Church. We climb the stairs and at the top we saw a building closed for many years for restoration work. It was an ancient church ,dedicated to S.Jacopo.  It was created as castle’s church, put into an enclosure area, inside the first walls’ circle and protected by Brana’s riverbed. It had defensive function against the Hungarians and the Northmen.  S.Jacopo’s  cult was spreading in Pistoia so  the Church took his name because people thought tha S.Jacopo saved  Spain from saracen.  According to tradition the Church was built before the year 1000 , even if is reported, for the first time in a document of 1131: probably  there was a a cult for S.Jacopo before the relic came to Pistoia. The guide told us that in the internal walls of the church,have been recovered some frescos representing The Virgin breastfeeding the Baby, bishops and  saints , in addition to inserts with geometric patterns extremely accurate. When the situation changed and the raids of Barbarians declined the building decayed. The Castle and its Church had lost thir function of shelter, after many years.



Who was S. Jacopo?

In the first Galizia, a Spain’s region , appeared a  shiny star. A man  followed it , thinking that it could mean something , he went to the local bishop, Teodomiro who,with his specifications , found the place , “Campus Stellae”, Star’s area, renamed Compostella. Here was situated the marble ark  containing the body of the Apostle Giacomo the Major. He was  Zebedeo’s son  and Jesus’ Apostle, which was prosecuted and beheaded in  42 by Erode Agrippa , it was said he had preached also in the pagan Spain.According to the legend, his body was moved to Galizia,with a boat guided by angels and there he was buried. S.Giacomo,in spanish S. Jacopo, became quickly “San Jacopo Matamoros”, which means christian knights’ support against the Moors. In the place were they found  the grave ,it arose the Santiago de Compostella’s Sanctuary  (San Giacomo) ,which became one of the first pilgrimage destinations,all over the Dark Ages .
The historian Salvi tells that in the year 849 ,the citizens of Pistoia were afraid that the Saracen ,who came to Rome, could  invade them so they begged  for S.Jacopo’s protection  remembering that also the king of Spain Ramiro turned to the Saint’s help . Pistoia wasn’t invaded and the people of Pistoia were so grateful to the Saint that they dedicated him a Church on Castellare’s Fortress. In  1139 in  Pistoia, the Bishop Atto requested a Saint’s relic , which was carried directly from Compostella. It was a very significant event for the city because it sealed a dela between the Bishop and the  consuls of the Municipality,after the excomunication of the consuls. The relic ,a fragment of Saint’s skulls, was shown to the people for the first time in 1145. S.Jacopo becamepatron of the  Municipality  since 1272 and since then he became protecto of its indipendence, element of civic cohesion between the secular and the religious power. The relic was deposed in a Chapel built for the occasion ,the S. Jacopo’s Chapel ,which was inside the Cathedral Square .That’s how the Chapel became immediately place of pilgrimage, it determined the departure for many pilgrims. They asked for protection for the long travel. On the way back they stopped th thank the Saint  for thr success of the enterprise. As Cipriani says”…Pistoiahad and still  has a spetial relationship with S.Jacopo .They used to call him  BARON or SIR of the city as a sign of utmost respect ….now we could call him the Home’s Saint the Saint of all the people of Pistoia.

The ancient celebration in honor of   S.Jacopo

Inn the religious and civil history of Pistoia ,it has been very important the celebrationn of S.Jacopo which included: 
-The presentations of the compliments
-The religious Procession 
-The Fair and later……
-the breakfast offered to the citizen and outsider  nobility  which was very present at theFair.

There was also the custom of granting parole to a certain number of prisoners and giving bread to the poors of the city and the countryside. 

The presentations of the compliments

The invitation to the presentation of the compliments and to the Procession was done in the  as follows.

The podest had to convene the Authority of the Commune eight days before.
After this summons he had to make  publish the general rules  ,with sound of trumpeter, in the  places were they used to carry out the notices, by one of the public auctioneer dressed in the checkered sendal and armed with the quiver.

It was banished every citizen’s duty, except  for old people,kids and infirm, to attend to Procession of S.Jacopo’s Eve with a  lit taper. The invitation for the Cities, Lordships and Municipalities away from the cities was issued by the Civic Magistrate of Pistoia.
The celebrations of the comments took place in S.Francesco’s Church and before its building, in the little church od S. Maria Maddalena de Plunte.

It consisted in declarations of subordination and kind words of welcome that the leaders of representations traded with   Pistoia’s Gonfalonier .

The religious Parade 

The sacred rituals were solemn.It was part of these a preaching of eight days entrusted to church leaders. For this purpose  they hung a a tarp between the Baptistery and the Cathedral, to protect the public from the sun or the rain and to  facilitate the listening. We have seen the hooks still visible on the front of these buildings. After the celebration of the the compliments ,there was the Parade which started from S.Francesco’s Church  to the Cathedral in the afternoon of 24 July. In that afternoon the Clergy, followed by al the authorities of the City, brought S. Jacopo’s relic from S. Francesco’s church to the lawn. From that Church ,after the stop, started the Parade. The procession was preceded by musicians, thespians, dancers and other unusual characters which  called the attention of the public. To follow the citizens of the city and around with tapers and the patches of their Quarters. Were then in the order: the members of the eleven corporations of arts and crafts; the representations of the county folk; the representatives of Municipalities; the representatives of public charitable institutions; the Podest with his court; the members of communal  Magistracy accompanied by heralds on horseback.  





A herald held the the palio for the winner of the of the following day and another one held the city’s banner. A squad concluded this part of the parade. Immediately after followed the religious orders, the clergy’s classes and ,in the end, the Chapter of the Cathedral and the Bishop.At this point it came S.Jacopo’s reliquary, accompanied by many kids. In front of the canopy ,there were two prisoners, in green suits, who were released, in honor and glory of S. Jacopo. Finally the parade was closed by a military team and by the devoted people. Arrived in the Cathedral, the relic was placed on the Chapel’s altar and the ritual was concluded by the blessing of the Bishop. Later the bishop came out under the eaves and blessed the horses which were going to run in the Palio. In this occasion the People’s Capitan and the Podest offered  a Palio as a gift  to the Chapel. In the yearly recurrence of the celebration, the Chapel of the Saint,the Cathedral, the Lodge and the Square  were accurately decorated. “Big decorations of green tree comprised of branches of laurels…branches of roses in bloom  hung on every arch of the church …

Special lunches 


The patronal celebrations were celebrated with special lunches  in the families and in the communities. The potluck was particularly rich in desserts and good wine, it was offered in episcopacy or in the Municipality  to the clergy  and to other personality who came outside Pistoia. The  potluck abounded in confetti, rounded, oval and lumpy. Another  characteristic sweet was the ” berlingozzo” a rounded  Bundt cake lemon  baked.
They also ate  ”confortini” or  ”bericuocoli”, same  tarts  in the shape of  a little container which were filled with sweet liquor. On the table of every good citizen there were also the traditional  duck’s maccheroni.
There was an old expression which wanted that, on 25 July, the bells were playing…  maccheroni!

The Fair

S. Jacopo’s fair lasted fifteen days, starting from the week before the 25 July and prolonging for the following week. The fair included the trade in animals and  goods. In the Cathedral Square was set the place where the crockeries, the potters and the hempseed’s seller could sell…Under the lodge of Town Hall they could also sell and expose the wools…
Storytellers, jugglers and jokers were supposed to entertain the public, which was particularly attracted by firework . From the XVI century firework replaced the ancient luminaria based on oils and fats lighted in dedicated containers which were located on the towers and on the frames of the Palaces public and private.  
Firework started the night of July 24 .
In the same night, in the countryside they used to start a bonfire, which gave a sense of happiness.

S.Jacopo’s Palio

It’s impossible  to determinate for sure when the race for S. Jacopo’s celebration started in Pistoia. The first track about the Palio’s race goes back to 1265. In the costs made by the workers  in that year , is written : -…To Paolo Rovini from  Pisa, for buying from him a silk palio, which he won in S.Jacopo’s celebration during the palio, 11 lire
Also in 1284, in a provision they talk about it like the ” 
Honorevole  Berbers’Pallio'”.
The race, since the first or second decade of 1300, was considered integral part of  the patronal festivities. An episode transcribed by Sozomeno can tell us how much the citizens of Pistoia cared about this tradition.  . In 1363 a war broke out between Florentine and Pisan. The latter camped before the walls of Pistoia on 24 July. The  Pisan disturbed the celebration because they didn’t allow to  expose the flag for the horses’race  , so the people of Pistoia implied they’d have waved the flag on Pisa’ Doors. And that was it . On 28 July 1364   Florentine and  Pistoiesi defeated the people of Pisa and the next day they ran the Palio; Florentin and Pistoiesi ran that Palio because Pisan  had listed the celebration in Pistoia.”
We don’t know the ancient path of the race or its rules. Only in  1514 a municipal deliberation has documented the arrangements and the rules . This deliberation  was taken after disputes which arose  to clarify the Berbers’  starting point and the end point.The Council decide that the starting point would have been a  military pillar ,from the roman period,situated in Lucchese’s Street, mile past Pontelungo, among the actual Villa Spiti. The end point had to correspond to S.Maria Maggiore or Cavaliera’s Church , beside the  Town Hall,at the entrance of  XXVII April’s Street. It was a rectilinear race and it was almost two miles. The Berbers’ race was unchanged until the middle of the 16th Century,with this itinerary, despite the ledge of S.Vitale’s Church which closed in the middle  Madonna’s Street and which was really dangerous.

After the middle of the 16th Century the path was modified for the building of the fortified Bastion in Porta Lucchese, wanted from the  Duke Cosimo I de Medici.

For the Berbers’ race was selected in the city , Spianato’s Street, which would later be called Corso, along its length. The race  would have started from   San Francesco’s meadow, close to Ripalta’s Church, where was established the starting point, it had to cross San Vitale and San Paolo’s crossroads  and reach the finishing line, at S.Maria Nuova’s Church,at the entrance of the actual Resistenza’s Square. The race started  in the late afternoon. The horses were led blindfold at the starting point  and they should not be dolled up in trappings, bells or frills or  whatever  would spook the other horses . Between the competitors  are mentioned in the papers the horses of Genoa’s doge ,of Mantua and Ferrara’s dukes,

of Tuscany’s Grand Dukes’ and  the princes Colonna’s steeds. The horses took place at the start . The knight of Podest’s court , had the task of calling the horses with these words:- To the rope barbary! 
To follow, the trumpeter gave the starting signal . The race along Corso’s street was facilitated because  the middle of the street was dirt for horses and carriages and  the roadsides  were raised and surfaced for the pedestrians . At S. Vitale’s crossroads, to the south,it was built a stage,reserved to the public authorities. The stage of Palio’s Judges, was placed on the northern side of S.Maria Nuova’s Church.
In the end of the 18th Century  it became traditional to officiate the night of S.Jacopo’s Eve with firework. In the late 1700s  they added to the race a race ”in circles” . It happened  around the elliptical of S.Francesco’s Church.on 26 July and it was  repeated for S.Bartolomeo celebration. The rectilinear ceased at the advent of World War I. The event  was reconstituted later with the configuration of the race” in circles” as a ” Carousel”  or “Quintana”,where it was highlighted the horse’s speed and the ability of the knight . S.Jacopo’S Palio became “Giostra dell’Orso”, taking bear’s name, the heraldic animal of Pistoia since 1360. Even now the memory of the ancient origins is still on the race because the winner  always gets the Palio, a banner of fine line,decorated and normally painted , made since the Dark Ages for this purpose.  

The Palio

One of the elements of continuity which we can find  between the ancient celebration in honor of S.Jacopo and the modern one is the delivery of a valuable drape, the Palio, to the winner of the race. In the past the drape was made by S.Jacopo’s Opera and it consisted in a precious drape  with tassels,strings, fringes and ribbons of gold. The Banners for S.Jacopo’s celebration were two: one for the Apostle’s altar and the second for the Palio’s winner. A special Commission, chosen between S.Jacopo’s Workmen,  had to buy the material for the drapes from the mercers’ shop in Florence and Lucca . The banners were  mounted on two wooden rods; the first was surrounded by the image of  a bear cub   (the Palio for S.Jacopo’s altar) and the second by the representation of the Apostle (the palio for the winner of the race or the owner of the horse); both the sculptures were made of wood and painted.In the days before the race,the Palio offered to the winner, was exposed in the most important place of the city, by the municipal ushers (tavolaccini)who stopped to read aloud the notice of the competition. The day of the race it was taken to procession and blessed and later hung from a window of the Town Hall  .

The Quarters

In the past, the city of Pistoia was divided into four Doors: Porta Lucchese or Lucense;
Porta Gaialdica or Caldatica or Carratica;
Porta S. Andrea, later Ripalta’s and now Porta al Borgo;
Porta Guidonis, the actual  S. Marco.
At the  ”Giostra dell’Orso”, participated three knights for every Quarter.
The Quarters are distinguished by their own heraldic crests: Porta San Marco has LEON D’ORO, Porta Carratica has DRAGO, Porta Lucchese has  CERVO BIANCO, Porta al Borgo has Grifone.

Giostra dell’Orso

In  1947, after the World War  , a group of young universities devised the first  Giostra dell’Orso,which originates from the ancient Palio for S.Jacopo. We can find reports of the ”Giostra” in a ”Giostra’s Declaration” written in  1666. On 19 July1947 the first Giostra dell’Orso,took place in  Cathedral Square. The Quarters which played for the prize were four,equivalent to the four Doors of the City: Porta al Borgo, Porta Lucchese, Porta Carratica and Porta San Marco. Only in 1947,will be planned an extra contrada  equivalent to the city inside the first circle  of the walls.

The horse race was taking place in a straight path which started from the Town Hall, to  the Tribunal’s Palace. In the Bell tower it was placed the bear,with papier-mache head and the body covered by dark goatskins. The bear was represented with the legs apart , on one of those was placed the targert ,on the secon one a whip which went down only if the knight  hit the target. On the contrary the bear worked like a carousel and the knight had to be fast to avoid the lunge. In  1947 the Giostra was preceded by the historical parade headed by trumpeters and drummers of the Municipality , by the Heralds, the Judges and the carrier of the Palio. To follow the Four Quarters,with their own flags and representatives. In closing there were a part of the municipal infantry and  a squad of honor on horseback of the Carabinieri of Florence .At the parade there were five thousand spectators who root warmly. In the following years the Giostra was modified: the papier mache bear was replaced with a stylized figure that looked like a bear.   

The path became oval. They realised two leads, side by side, in a figure eight. Around these, two opponent knights ran, they had to hit two targets  placed in the contact area between the two circuits,after two rounds. After several years,  the  Giostra dell’Orso is every year, on 25 July. In the morning , an historical parade walks along the streets of the historical Centre, following the line of the circle of the walls.

You can admire the period costumes, the nobles,the people of the Quarters with their flag brought from the bannermen and the community understood as medieval power. When the parade arrives in front of the Cathedral’s Doors they are opened  and shall take place the meeting with the Bishop who welcome the urban authorities and then returns in the Cathedral followed by the parade. The Bishop celebrates the Holy Mass in honor of S.Jacopo where he blesses the Palio too. At the end of the morning, in the Town Hall , they draw the knights for the Giostra. After the race, the Parade, knights and horses  are blessed by the Bishop from the windows of the Town Hall.

At the Giostra participate 3 knights for each Quarter which compete in 18 rounds in order of the draw made at the end of the morning. Their costumes represent the colors of each Quarter: yellow and red for Porta S.Marco, green and red for Porta Carratica, white and green for  Porta Lucchese, white and red for Porta al Borgo. The knights  run two by two  at the start point. They make two rounds at full gallop,clockwise,and at the end of the second round they hit the targets. Those are two stylized bears upright,with the legs opened horizontally:  the right one has the target,the left one falls down when is centered. For every round they assign to the knights points and penality according to the rules.
The Quarter which scored highest is declared the winner. 
The knight who personally scored highest is proclaimed “The knight golden spur “