(by Elena Viotto) (ANSA) - TRIESTE, AUGUST 8 - The shop windows are darkened, hidden behind the artisan booths where you can find original knitwear, swords or helmets of medieval knights. The street lights remain switched off. After sunset, the torches and the braziers light up the city. Every two years in the last weekend of July in Friesach, an ancient medieval town in northern Carinthia (Austria), reachable in just over two hours by car or train from Udine, it is possible to make a journey back in time and live a full immersion in the Middle Ages thanks to the Spectaculum, one of the most famous vintage festivals in Austria, organized by the local municipality. The festival revives the origins of Friesach, a medieval court that in 860 AD an heir of Charlemagne donated to the archbishop of Salzburg, on the road between Vienna and Venice, wherein the Roman period there was a postal station. The old city is surrounded by ancient medieval walls, protected by the defensive moat that is the only water-powered ditch in Europe, which was built in 30 years, around 1290, 820m long. From morning to evening knights are engaged in "bloody" battles. Wizards, jugglers and fire eaters entertain travelers. The little visitors can take part in ancient medieval games. Among the craftsmen booths you can buy handmade products and taste medieval dishes, strictly paying in Friesach Pfennig, a copy of the silver coin minted in Friesach during the Middle Ages, a valuable exchange currency that was used for trade with Hungary. In the Petersberg Castle, overlooking the town, you can watch vintage theatrical performances. During this weekend at the end of July, the town, 5,000 inhabitants, is "invaded" by thousands of people from various areas of Austria and north-eastern Italy. About 9,000 visitors attended the 2019 edition, along with costumed people, children, and teenagers (up to 15 years of age you can enter the Spectaculum for free). But in Friesach you can go back to the Middle Ages all year round. A unique experiment is underway since 2009 on a 6.5-hectare area south of the town: a medieval stronghold is being built, following methods and techniques dating back to the Middle Ages, without using engines or electric power. From April to October, on the site of the castle under construction, you can see a carpenter, a blacksmith or a stonemason at work, and you might discover how the lime is made while watching the building process. The central tower, which will be 20m tall, begins to take shape and is now 11m tall. By 2049, a Palais, that is a residential building, will also be completed, along with a small church, a courtyard, and a vegetable garden, surrounded by walls with turrets and gates. The project, which is a tourist attraction, is also important in terms of employment, involving local workforce. In Friesach you can discover not only the Middle Ages but also the history of chocolate, the bitter 'drink of the gods', brought to Europe by Christopher Columbus and Hernan Cortés. Thanks to tastings in the small factory run downtown by the Craigher family. Just a few kilometers away, in Sankt Salvator, you can visit the Seppenbauer Automobile Museum: an exhibition of 150 cars, motorcycles and aircraft prototypes collected by Gerhard Porsche. On display are some Porsche of course, including unique models, some of which are brand new, but also Bentleys, Rolls Royces, Jaguars and so on. (ANSA).

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