At the confluence of the two rivers - Arno and Serchio, not far from Florence and only 12 kilometers from the Ligurian Sea, is located a small Italian city of Pisa. But, despite its small size and population, Pisa is one of the most beautiful and exciting cities in Italy, with stunningly rich history and traditions. Every year millions of tourists from around the world are eager to visit Pisa (the city name is translated as “the mouth of the river”), which is famous for its Leaning Tower.
One of the reasons, in addition to architectural sights, is the large number of festivals, carnivals and traditional holidays. One of such events is the Battle on the Bridge (Gioco del Ponte), which for hundreds of years is celebrated on the last Sunday of June. All the main actions take place on the beautiful Mezzo Bridge (Ponte di Mezzo). The holiday itself consists of two parts. The first begins in early morning, when on the Arno embankment begins costumed military parade, which marches across the city and lasts until noon. And after dinner spectators and participants will gather near the Ponte di Mezzo.
The idea of the further spectacle is that the two teams dressed in medieval uniforms and traditionally termed Mezzogiorno and Tramontana, simultaneously came on the bridge from different sides. Next participants compete in physical strength and try to push their rivals off the bridge. On both banks of the river teams are watched by tens of thousands of spectators and fans, who support their teams with deafening cheers. After Gioco del Ponte the winning team with honors is escorted to the main square, where for them are prepared meals and where in the evening is held grand firework show. Popularity of the Battle on the Bridge is so high that in late June the number of people in the city increases more than twofold.
The first mention of the Gioco del Ponte is dated by 1568. Then competed two teams, each consisting of 50-60 people, mostly residents of the nearby towns and villages.