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Flag throwing

Last modified: 2003-07-18 by phil nelson
Keywords: flag throwing | palio | italy | switzerland | siena |
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In many Italian towns there are anniversaries of historical (expecially medieval) events with costume parades and flag throwing. Most Italian towns were founded many centuries ago, therefore everywhere there is a battle or another historical event to celebrate. In the last years there is a renewed interest for this kind of celebrations, often for turistic purposes; manny of them are called "Palio", the same name of the famous "Palio di Siena". There are also rentable flag throwing groups in costume. If you search Internet for "sbandieratori" you can find some of them, e.g.

Giuseppe Bottasini 4 June 1996

I have witnessed a couple of these events. There are at least two "tossers". One throws the flag, which is attached to a pole weighted at the base to offset the weight of the flag. The other catches it, or one individual will toss it into the air sometimes making the entire flag & pole twirl in the air and catch it himself. As far as I know, the contest is for most elaborate tossing (flips, twirls etc.) and height and distance.

Don 5 June 1996

Don described exactly the way flags are thrown. During parades, flagthrowers march holding the flagpole by only one hand and fluttering the flag and from time to time they throw the flag overhead. The effect is quite impressive. The flags used are historical (e.g. related to urban districts) or monochromatic.

Giuseppe Bottasini 6 June 1996

Flag throwing is common in Switzerland as well as Italy. Like palio flags, Swiss national and cantonal flags are square, which probably makes for better throwing. The flag bearer of the Swiss Olympic team is occasionally a thrower. IRC the Swiss put on such a display for Hitler (well, for everybody) at the 1936 Olympics. Almost every Swiss parade has flag tossing.

T.F. Mills 5 June 1996

In Siena page there is a sample of one of the 17 contrade of the Siena Palio.

Depicted in this series are the main standards and standard-bearers. The throwing versions of the flags are somewhat smaller and less elaborate, and the latter seem to be most evident on the Siena websites.
T. F. Mills 26 August 1997