Another performance art that features the chivalric epic is il canto a braccio, the singing of improvised poetry in ottava rima by peasant poets in the rural areas of central Italy.
“Still today, this invariably strikes one as an original, consistent, intriguing selection of references, spanning from the ‘Four poets’ — Dante, Petrarca, Ariosto, Tasso — onwards, with the addition of Pulci, Boiardo, Marino and a few others, thus merging Tasso’s Jerusalem to Homer’s Troy, Dante’s Inferno to Virgil’s Hades: a well defined poetic horizon, still reminiscent of the XVI century literary climate which had created it, via a well wrought fusion of the chivalric tradition with literary suggestions from ancient Rome: the Aeneid in the first place, and the much feared Metamorphoses of Ovid, the ‘Bible of the Heathen.'”
From Giovanni Kezich, Some Peasant Poets: An Odyssey in the Oral Poetry of Latium (Bern; New York: Peter Lang, 2013), pp. 16-17.
See also Kezich, I poeti contadini. Roma: Bulzoni, 1986.
Archivio e Portale informatico sulla Poesia in Ottava Rima Estemporanea (www.aporie.it)