03 October 2008

Band on the run


Each September Ascoli Piceno hosts a gathering of the Italian Bersaglieri. The Bersaglieri were created 1836 to serve in the Piedmontese Army, later to become the Royal Italian army. The name "Bersaglieri" means "sharpshooters". They have always been a high-mobility infantry unit, the elite of the army, and can still be recognized by their distinctive wide brimmed hat decorated with long feathers.

I can always picture the scene in Roman Holiday where Audrey Hepburn’s character watches the parade of the Bersaglieri fanfare (band) as they run past the review stand. This practice of running and playing music is their signature. Being a mobile unit they even had a bicycle brigade during World War I.

Last weekend the Bersaglieri fanfare where in town marching down the streets and through the piazze with their distinctive music echoing through the centro storico. They performed in Piazza del Popolo and Piazza Roma and stood proudly as local politicians bored everyone in front of the local war memorial, the veterans preferring to chat amongst themselves.

You can learn more about this unique Italian military unit at wikipedia.com.

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