I was 10 years old when I attended for the very first time the Quintana Tournament, one of the most popular event in the city of Ascoli Piceno. The Quintana is a Medieval festival held every year since 1955 and was founded by a few notables who wanted to enhance the image of their city nationwide.
My grandmother insisted saying that, at least once in my life, I should have attended this event.
Every summer she reminded me about visiting the city and I can still remember her words: “It feels like the city of Ascoli goes back in time to the Middle Ages to make people dream”
The Quintana is held every year the first Sunday of August on the occasion of the feast of Emidius , patron saint and first bishop of the city of Marche. But there is also an edition of Quintana at night, the second Saturday of July.
Specifically, the Quintana is a horse race with six knights, each competing for one of the six historic neighborhoods of the city, who ride the course one after the other trying to hit an effigy of an Arab warrior. The object of their contention is called: the Palio.
This is a fine cloth, usually canvas, painted in various techniques by famous artists. The Palio is delivered to the district winner.
For those who are not familiar with this event and either with the city of Ascoli, this event may seem quite common or insignificant. However, for the city of Ascoli this is the expression and synthesis of traditions, of their history and indissoluble bond to the land mentioned by ancient covenants which, in the Quintana, it preserves the memory. The event is followed and supported by all people of Ascoli, who are preparing for this event throughout the year.
Each year there has been the addition of new costumes and new figures up to the current composition of the imposing and magnificent historical procession that moves, with the measured tread of the ancient military art, accompanied for the entire route of the parade, by the sound of trumpets, the roll of the drummers and the flag-wavers who perform almost continuously.
The whole event of Quintana comprises several events happening during the whole week before conducting to the final competition of riders such as: the reading of the announcement, the offering of candles, the giving away of the archers, the prize of the flag and then the parade parade and the carousel in the field.
So, when 25 years ago, I finally attended the Quintana with my family, I still remember the eagerly wait before the event. Initially, I didn’t understand the excitement and the general euphoria of the crowd.
Then I remember the sudden fading of any noise when in the distance, we all started seeing the arrival of the Medieval parade.
The Queen of the Knight is the character I was most fascinated by and her dress was so rich and elaborate.
Closing the parade were the flag bearers and musicians: the first exhibit in curious choreography with their flags, while the latter give rhythm to the parade with their drums. The parade finally enter and end in the playground, where the race takes place later.
… And finally: the splendour of the tournament, which proclaims the winning district the Palio will be delivered!
On the occasion of the upcoming evening edition of 2015, I really wanted to write a post about this extraordinary event, which will take place this Saturday, July 11.
Le Marche are a place rich in traditions handed down from generation to generation.
This is the land where I come from, this is the land Discovermarche wants to introduce to the world!
A special thanks to the Quintana Tournament foundation for the images provided. To find out more about this event, please visit: http://www.quintanadiascoli.it