Medieval festivals in Italy - Ludika

Italy is often referred to as the living museum, as living in the past. People often relate things back to the Romans, to some ancient incident that happened over a thousand years ago. However, one of the things I hadn't realized was that Italians are pretty into their medieval history too. All over Italy, festivals spring up throughout the year where towns are transported back to medieval times, with medieval pageantry, food, and music.

One of the largest takes place in the northern Lazio city of Viterbo from the 18th to the 24th June... (8-13th July in 2013)

Ludika 1243 is a medieval festival that takes the San Pellegrino quarter (the oldest part of Viterbo) back to 1243, with games, historical reenactments, music and food. They transform the streets, with locals wearing medieval clothes, and street performers, jugglers, fire-eaters and the like wandering around. Plus, rather than breaking the ambiance with a modern day meal, you can also eat in special taverns serving food from recipes from the XIII century.

Ludika (from the Latin‘ludus' meaning a game, sport or training) is not only a medieval feste, where you turn up in your modern clothes, gawk and stare, and generally feel out of place. Oh no, in Ludika, you can actually take part! In a cool twist, you can sign up to take part in various medieval reenactments, such as the big battle between the Guelfi army (yay!) who defended the city of Viterbo against the Ghibellini army (boo!), under the order of Federico II. You can pick which side you want to fight for and then you'll be given clothes and weapons and even the possibility to train during the days preceding the battle. This battle itself usually involves hundreds of people and is a highlight of the festa. After a parade that passes through the city streets, once the “Guelfi” and “Ghibellini” armies reach Faul Valley, at the sound of the battle-horn, they start the battle royale. Every year the result changes, but once the battle is over, everyone retires back to the streets to partake of the food and wine. You'll have to be quick if you want to take part. Contact details can be found here.

If you don't fancy taking part in the battle itself, there's plenty more to be kept busy with. For example, there's a street play, where over 20 actors present an interactive wandering show where they search for the mysterious Brancaleone. Click here for the full programme (currently only in Italian, although they promise an English one).

If that isn't enough, there's also a photo competition. At the end of the festival there is an award ceremony (I'm not sure what the prize is) for the person who has best captured the spirit of the festival.

If you can't make it to Ludika, there are plenty of other medieval festivals in Lazio. Here's two more:

Medioevo a Soriano, Soriano Nel Cimino, Viterbo - from Friday June 22nd to Sunday June 24th. Highlights include a falconry show, reenactments and music. More information can be found here.

Carosello storico dei Rioni di Cori, Latina - from mid-June to the end of July.
Highlights include two palio, various festivals and medieval food. More information can be found here.

Who knew living the past could be so much fun!

All photos taken from


  1. Or so busy, there are always so many things happening here in the Summer Months!

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