My Photos: Italy -- Pisa -- Museo Nazionale Palazzo Reale

View from the Museum Entrance on the Arno River

The first room we wandered into held a large set-up that appeared to be some type of battle re-enactment display.

The room also held large glass cases filled with heavy wooden bats or clubs, each painted with bright colors, patterns, and many with wild animals.

We had absolutely no idea what this all was, until the man who had given us our tickets at the entrance bustled up to us, and started explaining in very good English.

The display is a replica of what is called "The Bridge Game."

Beginning in the year 1568, rival teams from different areas of Pisa re-enacted a battle for possession of the bridge over the Arno River.  Using wooden clubs painted in colors and symbols of the various factions, teams of men would fight their way across the bridge.  Not surprisingly, each year, many were injured and even killed.  Once helmets and armor began to be worn, fewer men were killed by blows to the head, but many died from drowning after falling off of the bridge, weighed down by the armor.

Today, the object of the game, played each year in June, is to push a seven-ton wooden trolley across the bridge into "enemy" territory.

After completely explaining to us the Bridge Game, this kind man gave us our very own, personalized tour of the entire museum, which consisted of room after room of portraits of the entire Medici family.  We learned the history of each and every member of that family!  (Which is appropriate, since the palace that houses the museum was once a Medici palace.)  

Needless to say, 2 hours later, when we emerged from the museum, our heads were spinning...and we needed beverages!  

I did not want to be rude to our guide, so did not take pictures throughout the museum, but I would definitely recommend a visit.  Especially for Italian history buffs!  I have added a link to the museum here for anyone interested:

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