Coveted prize won by the most elegant performers in both historical parades.
On the day of the Palio di Siena, accompanied by the chimes of Sunto (as the big bell placed on top of the Torre del Mangia tower is called) the historical procession makes its entrance into the Piazza del Campo. On top of being a commemorative re-enactment of the institutions, customs and greatness of the ancient Sienese Republic, it’s also the time when the ‘Comparse’ of the 17 Contrade parade in their costumes trying to win the ‘Masgalano’.
The name comes from the Spanish ‘mas’ (most) and ‘galante’ (elegant). The Masgalano is the award given to the Contrada whose paraders known as Comparse are found to be the best in terms of elegance, poise, and skill as a standard bearer or drummer during both historical parades.
Stemming from an ancient tradition, the Masgalano is an embossed silver tray or basin, but it has slowly turning into a silver sculpture usually made from deforming a tray. It must feature the coats of arms of the City of Siena, the Magistrate of the Contrade and the Comitato Amici del Palio (Friends of the Palio Committee).
It’s awarded by a jury composed of two representatives from each of the 17 Contrade and gathered in the Comitato Amici del Palio. Each Contrada annually appoints its own representatives, usually from among former standard bearers and drummers.
The Masgalano is presented by the city government and may be offered by public bodies, Sienese associations, or other institutions whose capacity or function is particularly related to the city’s history. All forms of advertising and propaganda are excluded and, according to ancient custom, the Masgalano is presented at the presentation of the Drappellone.
Apart from the days of the Palio, the flags performances and drum rolls continue to be heard in the streets of Siena’s old town. Why is this you ask? It’s the children of the 17 Contrade who are training for the Mini Masgalano, an event organized by the Contrada della Torre neighbourhood in which children compete for the prize that as always will go to the best and most elegant standard bearers and drummer of the Contrada.