Italian traditions: The living checkers in Conegliano
- WTI Magazine #116 Jun 15, 2019
The "Dama Castellana", one of the most important historical Italian events, evokes an important Renaissance battle that took place in the second half of 1200 between Conegliano and Treviso. The Living Checkers commemorates the battle where the soldiers from Conegliano, victorious in the dispute, forced the enemies to bring them on their shoulders, as they were donkeys, up to the Castle.
Two centuries later, the event was remembered with games and competitions in the village, the first edition of the great Feast of the Dama Castellana that today the town commemorates in fifteenth- century dresses, beautifully and carefully packaged for the occasion.
The Prelude announces the party on Friday night, with the historic procession that from the Cathedral, with the blessed Gonfalons, comes up to the town hall. Here the lady winner of the previous edition gives the keys of the castle to the city's mayor, who the day after will give them to the new winner. In the meantime the feast sees shows, games of fire and musicians.
The next day the procession arrives at Cima Square for the famous game of checkers, symbol of the battle, allowing to admire beautiful vintage dresses, velvet, decorations, feathers and hats, and the radiance jewelry worn by the actors.
The game takes place on an immense chessboard where living black and white "pawns" move, slowly eliminating each other between the jubilation and cheering on of the districts in the stands.
The penalty for the losers is to push the cart with the winning Lady up to the castle. Following there's a Renaissance dinner with minstrels, jugglers and musicians, old recipes and tasting of the famous Prosecco from Conegliano, to whom we owe the birth of the first wine route in Italy, "the Prosecco wine road".