07 August 2007

La Quintana and La Festa

La Quintana finito

Just a warning that this blog will be a long one as there was a lot going on in Ascoli Piceno during the last few days of La Quintana.

The final week of La Quintana is also the week of La Festa di Sant’ Emidio, the patron saint our adopted hometown. The past week-end was full of processions for both events, of coursee patron saint of numerous special masses for La Festa, another giostre for La Quintana, a bridge painting competition amongst the sestiere, nightly concerts in the cattedrale and piazze, a Tombola di Sant Emidio (lottery drawing for cash prizes) and each night ended with lots of fireworks.

Saturday evening there was the Offerta dei Ceri which is a procession of costumed participants through the centro storico to the cattedrale where the surrounding castelli and local sestiere present candles to the church symbolic of the candles used to light the interior in years past. The procession filled half of Piazza Arringo once they all arrived amongst pounding drums and trumpets.

This was immediately followed by the Sorteggio Giostra de Sant Emidio which is a blessing of the participants in the final giostra. Each sestiere presented their horse and rider for the blessing as the entire procession bowed forward in prayer.

That night there was a concert in Piazza del Popolo that concluded just before midnight to give people time to walk to the banks of Torrente Castellano to witness the pirotecnico display that echoed in the valley and against the stone buildings. We have noticed that the fireworks displays here in Italy are preceded by one or two loud bangs to inform everyone they are ready to begin. Then at the end of the show, instead of a finale, there are several loud bangs to signal the end of the show.

Sunday was the big culmination of La Quintana and La Festa di Sant’ Emidio with bands playing in the streets and the Processione dei figuranti della Giostra della Quintana e Corteo that included 1500 costumed participants, plus animals, parading through the historic center. This was larger than the processione that we witnessed in July and included falcons and dogs in addition to the horses participating in the competition. There were knights in armor, ladies and gentlemen of the court, sbandieratori, musicians, shepherds, falconers, arcieri, town officials, banner carriers and of course the cavalieri. This processione ended at the Campo dei Giochi where the cavalieri competed for the palio which was won by Porta Romana.

A few hours after this there was the Processione in onore di Sant’ Emidio that made a circular route from the cattedrale along the streets around Piazza del Popolo and back to the cattedrale. This was a much more solemn affair as the nuns, monks, priests and local faithful chanted quietly while an ox pulled a cart carrying the silver statue of the patron saint.

This final night was capped by the Tombola di Sant Emidio where there was a balcony attached to the front of Palazzo Arengo and numbers were drawn until there was a winner proclaimed for the lottery, tickets cost 5€ and the top prize being 10,000€. As usual, we were not winners. At 1:00 AM the finale was a spettacolo pirotecnico over the Torrente Castellano that lasted almost an hour. This made for another long night as we finally plopped into bed well after 2 AM with the fireworks still ringing in our ears.

We will be looking forward to some quite time when we head south to visit family in a small town in Basilicata next week.


Barbara said...

As a medieval geek I'm soooo jealous...even tho you it meant many late nights! Thanks for persevering to give us the scoop...and lots of great pictures! 1500 in costome...WOW!

Bryan said...

Thanks Barb,
It was a unique experience to see the figuranti. Many of the costumes come right from art work in the churches from the 1500's.