Marostica: Checkmate!

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If you have time to get out of Venice, the Veneto region awaits.

Marostica is famous for a single event that happens every two years. It’s a human game of chess, held in front of 4 thousand or so visitors in the main square of town. The chess board is so big you can see it clearly on the map below, but here it is at an odd angle from a visitor’s perspective:

maracostica pictureMaracostica: The Chess Board

Nice Piazza, eh? The town has two castles, one a sort of Entrance castle that sits by the road and beckons you to enter the town. When you enter the Piazza and turn back to look, here is what you see:

maracostica castleMaracostica: The Lower Castle

The other is way up the hill. There are fine trails leading up to it.

marocostica pictureMaracostica: Statue and Upper Castle

Ok, so what’s interesting about the human chess game is that the whole idea of the thing seems not to be based on an actual event but on a work of fiction.

Here’s the way Wikipedia tells it:

“After the Second World War, the comedy writer Mario Mirko Vucetich authored a play in which Two noblemen, Rinaldo D’Anganaro and Vieri da Vallanora, fell in love with the beautiful Lionora, daughter of the local lord, Taddeo Parisio. As was the custom at that time, they challenged each other to a duel to win the hand of Lionora. The Lord of Marostica, not wanting to make an enemy of either suitor or lose them in a duel, forbade the encounter. Instead he decreed that the two rivals would play a chess game, and the winner would have the hand of Lionora. The loser of the chess game would also join the family, through marrying her younger sister, Oldrada. During the play the game takes place on the square in front of the Lower Castle with supporters carrying the noble ensigns of Whites and Blacks, in the presence of the Lord, his noble daughter, the Lords of Angarano and Vallonara, the court and the entire town population.”

The official site and the Italian Notebook make no mention of the fiction, so let’s accept that this romantic account happened in 1454 in be done with it.

Marostica is also noted for its cherries. Over 15 varieties are cultivated in the region by over one hundred producers. They are often left to macerate in some vino rosso. The Marostica cherries have been awarded their own IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) status, and have a connection to the chess game as well. The first known mention of the now famous cherries appears in the script.

So let’s get to the map and the stats.

Map

Rating:
Unique: A chess game every two years (second weekend of september in even-numbered years.
Not to Miss: Marostica Cherries
Weddings: Weddings in Marostica
When to Go: May to Late June for cherry blossoms, last Sunday in May for the Cherry festival, September for the chess game.
Region: Veneto Map
Days: 2-3
: No train station.
Parking: Free parking along the main street in the off season
Recommended Hotel and Restaurant: Ristorante Hotel La Rosina
Marostica Country Vacation Rental
Local Wines: Soave and others. Taste or purchase at In Vino Veritas enoteca: VIA VAJENTI, 29/A
How to get there from Venice

Marostica: Checkmate! originally appeared on JustGoItaly.com Mar 31, 2015, © James Martin.

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