Knees bent, chest raised, the flag-waver uses all his strength to thrust his flag high into the sky. Tension heightens amidst the crowd as the Italian national flag soars towards the San Martino bell tower. Whop! The young sbandieratore catches his flags with much precision, and the crowd roars in unison. The intense silence now explodes into a cacophony of cheers and music.
I am in the medieval city of Lucca to witness Italy’s traditional flag-waving ceremony. It’s a special day for them: Italy turns 150 today and everyone is out on the streets to celebrate. Along with a group of travel bloggers, I’m here to join in the city’s celebrations and explore this region. I’ll let my photos take you through the impressive flag-waving ceremony.
Sbandieratores, as the flag-wavers are called in Italian, keep the tradition alive these days with occasional performances during festivals and major events. The rationale behind flag-waving is to re-enact the ceremonies that took place during the 1500s. This explains why they are usually dressed in medieval clothing.
There is a lead flag-waver who plays the protagonist of the performance. It is said that back in those days, the sbandieratore who could throw the flag highest would win the girl. Judging from the performance we caught, I’m sure the lead flag-waver earned his fair share of fans. Here’s a video of him strutting his stuff at Piazza di San Martino:
Lucca is best known for its flag-waving performances having given the world some of the top sbandieratores.
We were lucky enough to witness the performance of Nikola Cosentino, famous actor and two-times winner of the National Flag-waving Championships.
This experience was made possible by Avventurosa and Casa Gentili, but all opinions are my own. Read more about my travels in Tuscany, Italy here or follow me on Twitter with the #TuscanyTrip hashtag.
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