When you think about historical representations in Italy, the Palio of Siena is probably first to mind but actually there are hundreds of them all over Italy, the only difference is the relationship that each place has with its rich ancient history.
The Quintana in Ascoli Piceno, one of the five provincial town of the Marche, finds its roots in the festival dedicated to its patron, Saint Emidio.
The Quintana is composed of various events involving the town’s six neighbouthoods and are enthuiastically cheered on by the thousands of onlookers. Starting in July and ending on August 5 the main occasions are the Carousel ring, the Palio and the Parade.
The Carousel ring.
August 5 enjoys a faithful reconstruction of how the Ascoli people lived in medieval times and derives from the statutes of 1377. The challenge was for horse riders to throw a spear inside a silver ring hanging from a rope. The winner was made a gift of the ring.
This really is a proper Palio, departing from the Porta Romana and arriving at the Piazza Arringo. and has remained virtually unchanged for centuries. The skilled jockeys vie to see who could first touch the “pallium” which was a cloth of crimson velvet.
The Historical Parade
When the sun nears sunset, the hour of the Quintana, this parade is performed as the last act of the celebrations for St. Emidio. The parade of Quintana consists of more than fourteen hundred figures that parade wearing costumes inspired by the 1400s, again based on the Statutes of the Ascolani 1377. The main figures of the city all participate, the City Council and the Mayor who plays the role of “Magnifico Messere,” who was once the ‘ boss’ of the city itself. The order of parade starts in the Piazza del Popolo with the Magnifico Messere and the elders at the front and followed by ladies, bridesmaids, soldiers, musicians, flag bearers, archers, crossbowmen, and other characters from the six individual districts making this a rich and stunning display of pageantry.
Ascoli is one of the main Italian cities where the continuity of historical games and parades over the centuries is most apparent and should not be missed.