Italian Renaissance Faire

Italian Renaissance Faire

Many Renaissance Fairs have the same basic theme that influences the design and action within the park:  Tudor/ Elizabethan England.  These fairs make an effort to remain true to the period and have little of the fantasy element.  With the proposed Minooka faire having a large portion of its target audience shared with the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Bristol, Wisconsin, a unique setting would add to the appeal of the park.  This proposal features a setting that is only touched upon in other parks, but features a culture that had a greater influence over the Renaissance as a whole than 15th/16th century England: northern Italy.

Setting:  Although the Catholic Church was the largest political power during this time, Italy was not the unified country that it is today, but divided into city-states.  Divide the park into the different cities of northern Italy that are noted for their unique nature and/or contribution to the Renaissance:  Venice, Rome, Florence, Siena, Verona, San Gimignano, Padua, etc. 


Action:  Set up a rivalry among the different cities (similar to the ones from Medieval and Renaissance times).  Feuding families like those in Romeo and Juliet would make for interesting dialogue and swordplay.   Customize the action to match each town, for instance Marco Polo influenced Venice and the Medici family influenced Florence.  A gypsy camp would also provide and area for fortune telling and musical acts.


  • Shakespeare’s Italian Plays:

  • Romeo & Juliet

  • The Taming of the Shrew

  • The Merchant of Venice

  • Much Ado About Nothing

  • The Two Gentlemen of Verona

  • Commedia dell’Arte:  Slapstick improvisations using the classic characters from the Commedia:  Harlequin, Columbine, The Captain, Bauta, The Young Lovers, etc.

  • Siennese Palio Race:  Bareback horse race around the Siena Campo (shell-shaped town square) with a single contestant from each of the cities.

  • Flag Twirling and Throwing Exhibitions

  • Circus Acts

  • Traditional Dances such as the Saltarella

  • Varietal Musical Acts


  • DaVinci’s Flying Machines (Similar to Bristol’s)

  • Ships to the New World (Similar to Bristol’s)

  • Gondolas (on a lake)


  • Human Chess Game

  • Archery

  • Tomato Tossing

  • Other Typical Fair Games

Food:  Food should be influenced by, but not limited to traditional Italian cuisine:  Pasta, Cheese, Frittatas (egg sandwiches), Pannini (grilled meat sandwiches), Pizza, Bruschetta, Polenta, Garlic Mushrooms, Porcini Mushrooms, Ribollita (Tuscan Bean Soup), Gelato, Tiramisu, Melon, Coffee, Wine (Chianti, Pinot Grigio, etc.), Beer

Design: Use each town’s flags, symbols and colors to differentiate between sections.  For instance, the winged lion on the red and gold Venetian flag; or Romulus and Remus for Rome.

  • Venice:  On a small scale, create canals so that people must cross bridges to get to different areas.  Shops should specialize in glass, lace and papier mach√© masks.

  • Florence:  Have a traditional market that specializes in gold, leather, and marbleized paper that has the feel of the Ponte Vecchio (include as many references as you can to the actual city, such as a copy of Michelangelo’s David, or the Porcellini statue from the market that tourists rub on the nose to ensure a return visit).  Create a miniature Boboli Gardens with a coffeehouse in the center.

  • Rome:  Have a variety of fountains (perhaps a copy of Bernini’s Four Rivers), the Bocca della Verita (the Mouth of Truth), and some references to the Vatican.

Costumes:  The costumes for the Italian Renaissance are distinctly different from those worn at most fairs.  The Elizabethan wardrobe of corseted waists with large bell skirts for women and pumpkin hose for men with slash and puff details were not the fashion.  Instead, women wore gowns with an empire bodice and men wore jerkins showing a lot more leg.  This is an area that could have appeal to employees.  Rather than forcing them to wear the heavy formal clothes of the North, give them a decidedly Southern appeal for summer use by using lighter fabrics such as gauze.

Language:  One of the elements that binds fairs together is the period dialogue that is used.  For obvious reasons, Italian can only be spoken in small amounts.  Just as typical Elizabethan greetings and phrases are given at other fairs, simple Italian phrases could be provided to attendees.  Although there is some difficulty involved, it is possible to train the performers to speak with an Italian accent.  However, it would be easier if they were allowed to speak with the Elizabethan styling modified to include simple Italian phrases.

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