La Quintana – sbandieratori
Saturday and Sunday evening Piazza Arringo became full of drummers, trumpeters and sbandieratori or flag performers. This competition is part of La Quintana and each sestieri competes for the coveted palio and bragging rights for all of Ascoli Piceno.
These events are full of the colorful costumes of the sbandieratori, their flags and the sounds of the trumpets and drummers. Being in the middle of this pageantry is hard to describe; you can only fully understand it by experiencing it in person. It would be like trying to explain the experience of being in The Horseshoe in Columbus, Ohio on a fall Saturday afternoon to someone who has never seen a college football game. The sbandieratori are all young men and perform with flags that are about a yard square that they twirl, toss and launch a hundred feet into the air. They may juggle as many as five flags at one time using both hands and their feet while keeping one or two flags airborne at the same time.
Each sestiere has as many as eighteen sbandieratori, twelve to eighteen drummers and as just as many trumpeters who compete in four separate competitions: singolo, coppia, piccolo squadra and grande squadra. The winner of each competition is awarded a prize and the combined score for each sestiere determines the winner of the palio. Porta Solesta with their yellow and blue were the favorites before the events started and they were awarded the palio on Sunday evening.
My favorite was the grande squadra that was a combination of sbandieratori and musicians who interwove together in a faced paced dance of flags and music. With the flags waving and launching over the musicians’ heads I never saw one who flinched. The musicians are a combination of males and female of varying ages. A performance that is difficult to capture with a camera.