If you chose to spend your holidays in Italy and maybe give yourself a few days of absolute relax, far from the chaos of the city and light years away from problems and tensions, the Piceno area is the ideal place to book your stay. Whether you love the sea or the mountains, you will find the right atmosphere to relax and experience a truly unique holiday! Within a few tens of kilometres in fact, you will have sea and mountains, hilly areas and plains where Nature reigns supreme with its summery colours and its unmistakable scents.
Cities full of history and culture, such as the regional capital Ascoli Piceno, dating back to the roman period or the charming town of Offida, homeland of the handmade bobbin lace, right down to the East where you can find seaside resorts such as San Benedetto del Tronto or Grottammare, small pearls of the Adriatic characterized by blue and crystalline sea, with sandy bottom, and provided with hundreds of accommodations, all on the first raw of the waterfront, ready to meet your needs and ideas of holiday.
Don’t forget that in San Benedetto del Tronto the Gleni Boutique awaits you with its superb creations, all rigorously Made in Italy: handbags and accessories in exotic leather that, until August 31, you can buy at an unrepeatable price, with discounts up to 60%.
In our future articles, we are going to describe more in detail, with words and pictures, some of the more characteristic villages and towns of the Piceno area, revealing anecdotes and curiosities, beauties and artistic riches or even just landscaping so that, if you decide to spend a few days here, you will already have an idea on how to move and on what to visit in this region. We will also reveal what, in our opinion, are the typical dishes that you absolutely need to taste, exclusive delicacies that will help you to remember us and this little corner of peace and harmony even during the hard and hectic days of work upon returning to the city.
Today, however, we want to present two of the many cultural and evocative events that will be celebrated here in the Piceno between the end of July and the beginning of August, two very important patronal festivals that are felt not only by those who live here but also by the many tourists who, annually, choose this time of the year to come here on holiday and relive with us the traditions and the historical events that, since the remote past, give prestige to our territory.
The first event we invite you to participate, if you are already on holiday nearby, is the “Festa della Madonna della Marina” (Festival of the Madonna of the Navy) in the centre of San Benedetto del Tronto, near the port area. This event is very much felt by the citizens of this town because, as you well know, San Benedetto is a seaside city and, as such, its trade is based not only on tourism but also (and above all) on fishing. The port of San Benedetto del Tronto is mostly crowded with small and large fishing boats, belonging to long dynasties of sailors who, for decades now, have handed down the profession from father to son and who, every Sunday evening, at sunset, sail with their boats from the port to go fishing in the open sea and then go home during the weekend, tired but proud of their work.
The “Festa della Madonna della Marina” in San Benedetto is mainly the celebration of the sea and of the fishermen and, as such, it takes place in the port area and involves the sailors and their fishing boats. It is a Catholic religious festival that takes place in the last week of July and that this year will occur from 26 to 29 July and it has a very intense social value.
The main characters are the fishermen who, on Saturday afternoon, around 6.00 pm, along with the highest offices of the diocesan curia of Ascoli, will go to the sea with their fishing boats in a sort of procession and will take to the sea the image of the Madonna of the Navy, their patron saint. Among all the boats, one will have the honour of hosting the sacred image, together with various prelates and members of the church. The boat is adorned and embellished with garlands of flowers and festive flags. When all the boats have left the port in this sort of procession, a crown of flowers will be thrown in the water in memory of all the sailors who, in service, died in the sea and for the sea.
It is a very touching and suggestive moment, at the end of which the boats will come back to the port and a service will be celebrated on the quay of the port, presided by the bishop himself. After the celebration, the statue of the Madonna will be taken to the Harbor master’s office, escorted by guards, and it will remain there until the following day to be then taken back to the cathedral church with a procession.
Next to the religious celebration, however, there is also the civil one, which usually begins on Thursday evening with the opening of food stands in the central and port areas where typical dishes of the Piceno tradition are cooked and served, accompanied by wines produced from local vineyards, of which our area is leader not only in Italy but also abroad. The revenues of the food and wine stands, again this year, as in previous years, will be entirely donated to charity in favour of some humanitarian association operating in the territory.
The after dinner will be instead characterized by the presence of different musical and folk groups that, with their performances, also this year will animate each of the four evenings actively involving all those who take part in the festival.
At the end of the final evening (which will be the 29th of July this year), at midnight, a magnificent fireworks display will be offered: they will be shot by specialized personnel near the port, but they will be visible on the whole coast. Fireworks are very beautiful and evocative because, during the explosion in air, not only they brighten the sky with a thousand colours but reflect on the water of the sea creating a truly surreal and romantic atmosphere.
If you will be here during these days of celebration and you want to take home a truly evocative memory of San Benedetto, we suggest you see the fireworks directly on the beach as from there you will feel like you are in another world, made of lights, colours and joy and, even if only for a few minutes, you will feel far from the problems of the everyday life.
However, if you have already booked your stay in the Piceno but unfortunately the dates do not match with the Festival of the Madonna of the Navy in San Benedetto del Tronto, don’t worry: you can still lose yourself in the feudal and chivalrous atmosphere of the Giostra della Quintana of Ascoli Piceno.
But what is the Giostra della Quintana?
It is a medieval historical re-enactment with an equestrian carousel which takes place on the first Sunday of August, on the occasion of the festival of Saint Emidio, patron and first bishop of Ascoli. The traditional equestrian games see 6 knights, each belonging to a different city district, to engage in real exercises of military art with lots of shields and spears, as was customary during feudalism. It takes place every year at the “Squarcia” stadium. The games must follow very strict rules and a very strict procedure, at the end of which the winning rider is determined and consequently also the district of Ascoli that has won.
The games, however, are preceded by a procession consisting of about 1500 participants that starts from Piazza Ventidio Basso and, going through the squares and the most important streets of the historic center of Ascoli Piceno (including Piazza del Popolo), reaches the stadium ” Squarcia “where the games start.
The procession parades through the streets of the city following a particular order that includes archers, flag throwers, warriors, musicians, sirs, captains and ladies, in addition to the 6 knights on horseback representing the 6 districts of the city of Ascoli. All the clothes are vintage, faithfully reproduced by selected local ateliers, as well as the full hairstyles of women’s hair, embellished with diamonds and gems or the armour of the knights.
Very impressive, during the procession of the Quintana figures, is the show offered by the flag throwers who show off their coloured flags and, during the parade, throw them several times in the air, accompanied by the sound of the drums, thus creating a sense of amazement in the viewer to solemnity and austerity, a truly unique feeling.
The Quintana is for the city of Ascoli the true expression and synthesis of traditions, history and the strong bond that unites the people of Ascoli to its territory. It is a staple of the culture and tradition of this place and its inhabitants are preparing for this day of celebration throughout the year.