Suddenly, walking around Ascoli is like a stroll through the days of old, when knights served the city and the different sestieri were each responsible for the defenses of their sections of town. La Quintana, Ascoli's medieval games which have been carried out since the 1200s, has kicked off with a bang...or more accurately, with a trumpet blast. The piazzas are brightened with vibrant splashes of color and are filled with the differing drumbeats and trumpet tunes unique to each sestiere.
Last night, I found my knight in shining armour. These three fine fellows do the city proud, wouldn't you say? If the clothes make the man, then armour makes them absolutely striking!
This new musician was beaming with pride to be a part of the civic band heralding the event and leading the sbandieratori to the piazza for their competition. What a cutey!
The flag-throwing competition is my favorite event, particularly the grande squadra. The sestiere's musicians move in perfectly-choreographed formations among the flags which are being launched in all directions. They demonstrate a mastery of skill and precise timing. We now reside in Porta Maggiore, so we rooted for our underdogs, who put on a beautiful performance. Their choreography was the most complicated and intricate, but unfortunately they didn't bring home the Palio. (They placed third overall.)
Following the competition, the winners are announced, the Palio is awarded, and the teams parade out of the piazza in the order of placement, a long tradition which allows the citizens to see how their teams fared.
This is just the beginning. We have a month of contests and events to look forward to, giving us lots of opportunity to be a part of these gorgeous traditions still being carried on. Not to mention the chance to hang out with the knights. Viva La Quintana!
More about La Quintana:
Men in Tights
Wanted: A Palio Winner