Italian Traditions: The Quintana. Colours, sounds and medieval emotions of Ascoli Piceno
- WTI Magazine #94 Aug 19, 2017
The Quintana Horse Race is a competition among six knights, each one representing a local district. During the race, the knight must use a spear and ride a horse on a 8 shape route to hit the “moro” in the middle. Each assault corresponds to a certain score. The knight has to make 3 assaults in a row for each turn (named “tornata”). There are 3 turns for each knight for a total amount of 9 assaults. The most precise and the fastest knight wins the race.
The tournaments were a product of feudalism and cavalry and were related to the war-fighting games of many populations, aimed at practicing military art. There used to be many tournaments during the XII and XIII century, both in big cities and small villages. Jousts became even more famous than tournaments from the XIII century and started to spread all around the country.
Flag Waivers Palio
An incredible game of colors and sounds able to make you excited. Untouchable colored butterflies that soar in the summer sky. That is the amazing vision of those who are present at the competition of flagwaivers and musicians, which takes place on the first weekend of July. The magnificent Piazza Arringo becomes a lively ring where the six Sestieri compete for the drape of flagwaivers and musicians. The level of ability reached recently is so high, that they excel in the national competition organized by the Federazione Italiana Sbandieratori (Italian Federation of Flagwaivers). The flagwaivers of Ascoli are famous for their typical “bomba” (a final act which consists in throwing the flag as high as possible).
A challenge involving the flagwaivers of the six Sestieri. The competition begun in 1989 and the first location was Piazza del Popolo, then, since the edition in 2004, the new background was Piazza Arringo. The competition is divided into four exercises: “singolo” (each individual flagwaiver), “coppia” (a couple of flagwaivers), “piccola squadra” (little team, from 4 to 6 participants) and “grande squadra” (big team, from 8 to 16 participants). Since 2004, the exercise which concerns musicians, has been introduced.
The Historical Parade
A characteristic element of the Quintana of Ascoli Piceno in the other national and international Jousts is the historical parade, boasting about 1500 figures.
The elegance of the costumes originates from portraits of great artists who worked in Ascoli Piceno in the 5th century, first of all Carlo Crivelli. Some of the dresses carry the signature of some famous Italian stylist such as Pizzi, Guidetti and Martini. The most famous are today kept in the museum of the office of the Quintana in Piazza Arringo, which is possibile visit during the summer.
The advancement of the impressive parade is marked by the sound of drums and ancient trumpet. Inside it stand out the figures of the Magnifico Messere, but also those of consuls, captains, ladies, armies, archers, musicians and flagwaivers. The historical parade is opened by the municipal group, which is followed immediately by the vassal Castles of Ascoli Piceno and the six Sestieri of the Quintana. The order is according by the last ranking of the horse race. The mass of the figurines is planned in Piazza Ventidio Basso. From there the parade marchs along the characteristic streets of the historic center, passing through Piazza del Popolo, until reaching the ‘Squarcia’ Stadium. There, the six knights runs for the conquest of the Palio.