Festa del Barbarossa
The Festa del Barbarosssa is the revocation of an old dispute that ended up to be focused along the Via Francigena in San Quirico D’Orcia. The protagonists of the drama are three: Pope Adrian IV, the only English pope in the history of the Catholic Church; the Emperor Frederick I of Hohenstaufen, known as Barbarossa (the red-bearded); the monk Arnaldo da Brescia, a great preacher against the morals of the Church at that time.
It was the year 1154 and among the three protagonists there was a kind of game to the massacre: they hated each other but at the same time they are aware that they needed each other: Frederick and Adrian were fighting on the ground of politics but would make a common front to curb the aspirations for independence of the Italian cities. The monk Arnaldo was struggling with the pontiff in terms of morality and with Frederick I because of his defence of the municipal freedom.
A titanic fight, in which one must succumb. And it is easy to imagine which one was the weakest of the three: Frederick, in order to have the seal of temporal power over Italy, needed to be crowned in Rome, from the hands of the pontiff. The Pope Adrian IV agreed, as long as he would get Arnaldo out of the way. The agreement was signed.
While Frederick il Barbarossa was travelling down the Via Francigena to Rome, Arnaldo, escaping from that city, was travelling north on the same road on his way to Brescia. He had not even arrived in Siena when the monk was intercepted in San Quirico d’Orcia by the imperial troops of Frederick and immediately handed over to the papal authorities. He was then processed and condemned first to be hanged and then to stake (the same destiny, three and a half centuries later, of Girolamo Savonarola).
The meeting / confrontation that marked the fate of Arnaldo took place in San Quirico and this town over the Valdorcia organizes an annual commemoration of that historic event.
In the main square, which overlooks the magnificent 12th-13th Century church, the revocation is made in old costumes, with the delivery of the monk accused of heresy to the emissaries of Adrian IV arrived from Rome.
By late afternoon the festival takes on a more folkloristic look: representatives of the four districts in which the town is divided meet in the Horti Leonini, a garden created in the 16th Century by Diomede Leoni, for a bloodless challenge with a bow and an exhibition of flag-wavers.
Where: San Quirico d’Orcia. Evocation in the main square in front of the Collegiate church. Parade and challenge between the four Contradas in the town centre and in the Horti Leonini garden.
When: The third Sunday in June.