Monday, July 07, 2008

Knight Time

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


Leanne said...

I do love a knight in shiny armour! I have been lurking around your blog for a while and just wanted to say hello and that I agree that these flag throwers are amazing.
I saw some in Calabria when there was the Carnivale festa and I could not believe how easy they make it look. If it was me I would have lost both my eyes by now!

Kathy said...

Oh that little boy is so cute! But the big boys-*swoon* 8-) I would like to come for La Quintana sometime.

Valerie said...

Leanne -- thanks for coming out of the shadows and saying hi! They're so impressive, those sbandieratori. I would poke my eye out, too.

Kathy -- metallic eye candy, to be sure ;) We'd love to have you come visit anytime, but especially for La Quintana. It's an impressive show.

'A Tuscan view.....from Umbria' said...

Oh I love all this stuff. No one can carry off a pair of tights (or a suit of armour) quite like a gorgeous Italian male, best of all is when they keep their sun glasses on!;) Amanda

Valerie said...

Amanda, isn't it great? I love the medieval re-enactments, and those guys really do carry it off! It's funny to see them before-hand, struggling into the armour and having a smoke, talking on the cell phone, but then suddenly burst into the role and "become" that knight. So great!