Saturday, October 16, 2021

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A lone woman carries a cross with a broad sword and a longbow against the backdrop of medieval ruin in the village of Ostia, northern Italy. She is far from the battle, but the action is in her gesture, as if she is recalling some past battle from a long ago village. This is jousting — the medieval rite of passage for Italian men.

Jousting, dating back to the reign of Elizabeth I, or even by Pope Alexander VI, is being revived all over the world. In Italy, four jousting schools are scattered around the country, and more than 5,000 fighters train to participate.

Some actors learn the ancient traditions from their grandfathers and others have been helped to restore and use the armor used by knights from the turn of the 20th century.

For Ostia, it was true that no one had been practicing the skill for some time.

“Before 200, I didn’t know how to ride the wagon,” said Pier Corrado Federico Emanuele, a 31-year-old war chief at the Vatican’s gilded gladiator school. He grew up in Rome and moved to Ostia to study jousting. In Ostia, he said, “you will find with this method: the more experienced get the best of the others.”

These days, while many Italians, at least in the movies, know nothing about Jousting, most agree it is among the most entertaining of medieval traditions.

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