Words by Michelle Fabio
Picture by Infinitispazi / CC-BY-2.5

The first Sunday of August is reserved for the Quintana, a jousting competition capping a weekend of celebrations in the gorgeous medieval town of Ascoli Piceno in the region of Le Marche.

Ascoli honours its medieval history by recreating many traditions leading up to the joust, including the solemn reading of medieval documents of the elders, the display of the year's new banner, procession for the feast of Sant'Anna in conjunction with the celebration of Sant'Emidio (Ascoli's patron saint), competition of "sbandieratori" (flag throwers), the offering of candles to the bishop, and, of course, the historical parade in full medieval costume.

The joust itself it a raucous community affair during which many of the town's 60,000 residents pack the grandstands and cheer on one of the six participants, each representing one of the town's neighborhoods or sestieri. The games of the joust involve the riders performing various feats on horseback, armed with lances, with awe-inspiring accuracy leaving no doubt they were descended from the medieval knights of Ascoli.

Here is some video of the Quintana in Ascoli:

Ascoli predates Rome by centuries but its entirely walkable medieval centre has remained one of the most beautiful and evocative in Italy. Or to quote one of its tourism publications, "It is a place you can see in a day yet never forget."

Have you been to Ascoli Piceno or the Quintana?