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"Conegliano is the town that..." Italy Local Custom Tip by Pierangelo

Italy Local Customs: 311 reviews and 331 photos


<FONT COLOR='#000080'><A HREF=''><font color='#CC3333'><B>Conegliano</B></font></A> is the town that animates the game of “dama”, or checkers. This year, from September 29th to October first, the “Dama Castellana” returns inside the walls of the town which gave birth to the painter Giovan Battista Cima, as Conegliano dons its Renaissance garb in honour of the tradition according to which the game played with living pieces commemorates the battle won by Conegliano against Treviso in 1241. Back then, insult was added to injury, as the winners hopped on the shoulders of the losers to have themselves carried up to their castle, climbing a steep hill along a stone-paved path entitled Calle de Scoti. In the 15th century the battle was re-enacted in a bloodless manner, with grand feasts centred around game and wine, as well as tests of strength and warlike prowess to determine who was the best, meaning who, as had taken place 200 years earlier, would be carried up to the castle on the losers' shoulders. The tradition, which has survived to the present, has “transferred” the symbolic challenge to the living checkers match between the town's different neighbourhoods, a contest whose the losers must still push a cart carrying the damsel and the knight of the winning team up to the castle. The game of checkers for the year 2000 calls for the participation of 750 costumed townspeople, plus the staging and dances and duels.

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  • Written Aug 24, 2002
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