June 10, 2016 | News Release
One of Italy’s most honored traditions returns to the 2016 festival
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, June 9, 2016… Festa Italiana announced today that, direct from Italy, The Flag-Throwers of the Florentine (Sbanderatori dei Borghi e Sestieri Fiorentini) will be back by popular demand to perform at the 39th Annual Festa Italiana, taking place July 22–24, 2016 at Henry W. Maier Festival Park. This dynamic group of 16 will entertain audiences daily with a colorful show of choral exercises, music and flags symbolic of an historic Italian victory celebration!
“We’re thrilled and honored to again welcome the Flag-Throwers of the Florentine back to Festa Italiana 2016! Last year, the group of 16 elite flag-throwers amazed Festa attendees young and old,” said Joe Vella, Italian Community Center president and chairperson of Festa Italiana. “While performing, the flag-throwers bring our famiglia back-in-time to glimpse Italian history in action. Simply put, Festa wouldn’t be the same without this incredible and truly authentic experience.”
Festa Italiana attendees can watch the Flag-Throwers of the Florentine perform throughout the Festa grounds, in the opening ceremony and weekend parades, during Sunday’s mass and procession, as well as in the T.J. Bartolotta Sports Court during the following times:
• Friday, July 22: 8:30 – 9:30 p.m.
• Saturday, July 23: 8 – 9 p.m.
• Sunday, July 24: 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
About the Flag-Throwers of the Florentine
In the 11th and 12th centuries, flag-throwers accompanied armies frequently battling for control of territories and political supremacy throughout central and northern Italy. Since soldiers had no uniforms, the flag was the sole element of recognition, a source of civic pride and a useful tool for communication between army units. The flag itself was of utmost importance, and the brave flag-bearers had the obligation to protect their flag with their lives, if necessary, and to never let the flag fall into enemy hands.
Now, in the 21st century, the Flag-Throwers of the Florentine districts and villages (Sbanderatori dei Borghi e Sestieri Fiorentini) come to Festa Italiana to illustrate the allure of this ancient tradition. During each performance, the flag-throwers demonstrate select formations and exercises guided by the rhythm of drums and horns – all in unison! Festivalgoers are transported into medieval battle, watching banner waves and choreography meant to signal danger or triumph. The military connection associated with the original flag-throwers is also manifested through specific characteristics within the group: only men are allowed; the flag is worn with pride and respect; and the movements are precise and strict. By using flags with wooden rods and specially embroidered drapes, the group also remains faithful to flag-throwing tradition. Their name refers to both the bond with the city of Florence and the surrounding area, while the blue and red costumes symbolize the two factions of the city that made up the army – blue represents noble families and red represents the people.
To see the flag-throwers in action at last year’s Festa Italiana, visit http://festaitaliana.com/2015/04/Flag-Throwers-of-Florence.mp4.
More information about the Flag-Throwers of the Florentine can also be found on their website at http://www.sbandieratori.it/LENG/Z2/C25395-1/hhcm-Home.html or Facebook page!
Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind Festa tradition! Purchase your advance ticket today for $10, now through July 21, at http://www.festaitaliana.com. For ticket questions, please call 414-223-2808.