Photoblog: Flag-waving Ceremony in Lucca, Italy

Posted on March 22, 2011 by

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.

flag-waver in Lucca Italy

 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.

Flags high in the air

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.

girls waving flags in Lucca Italy Girls take turns to throw the flags as well.

marching band dressed in medieval clothing The flag-wavers are accompanied by a drumming band.

Participants dressed in medieval clothing

Two-times winner of national flag-waving championships

We were lucky enough to witness the performance of Nikola Cosentino, famous actor and two-times winner of the National Flag-waving Championships.

flag-waving duet The two have a duet of sorts, tossing flags into the air and swopping them from one hand to the other.

Lead flag-waving takes a bowAt the end of the performance, the lead flag-waver takes a bow.


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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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

6 Responses to “Photoblog: Flag-waving Ceremony in Lucca, Italy”

  1. Bluegreen Kirk March 22, 2011 10:01 pm #

    Love to photos and the video. I see that the women take a turn throwing the flags as well. Lucca looks like a nice place to visit.

  2. conniehum March 23, 2011 8:18 pm #

    I spent a week in Lucca many summers ago and absolutely fell in love with the place! How come I didn't know about the flagwaving ceremony??? What a fun experience to watch!

  3. Valentina May 23, 2011 9:00 pm #

    wow it's great! I'm one of the girls in the flag-waving team and I (as all the others) am totally flattered about the positive comments on this blog!! Thanks for sharing us with the world :)

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