As with many medieval Italian towns, Barletta is rich in historical episodes that have been remembered throughout the years. One of these episodes, and a popular attraction in Barletta tourism, is the “Disfida di Barletta”, or the “Barletta Challenge”. The original episode behind the challenge dates to February 13, 1503. On this date, 13 Italian soldiers faced 13 French soldiers in a joust on horseback. The challenge was launched by an Italian in response to a Frenchman that called into question the honor, valor and skills of Italian soldiers, who at that time were considered little more than mercenaries because of the fragmented state of Italian politics.
The French accepted the challenge, convinced of their superiority. It was the Italians who won the joust, however, affirming their “national pride”, despite the social situation of their country. This was a momentous event in Italian history and is still considered as such, especially by the Barletta people. Every year in February, the Disfida is remembered and celebrated, with detailed historical re-enactments, costume parades, medieval music, exhibits of historical and local craft items, theatrical displays and street performances, and the tasting of local cuisine. This colorful festival lasts a few days, so make sure to check out into one of the hotels in Barletta to fully enjoy all the festivities.
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