Editorial comment by Laura Knight-Jadczyk
The description of objects falling from the sky that looked like standards suggests a rain of fireballs with smoky tails.
The Roman Standard (Latin: Signum or Signa Romanum) was a pennant, flag, or banner, suspended or attached to a staff or pole, which identified a Roman legion. The Standard of a cavalry unit was emblazoned with the symbol of the serpent (Draconarius) while a legion of infantry was represented by a totemic animal. The most famous of these is the eagle (Aquila) but there were also legions identified by the boar, the wolf, the horse, and minotaur. See: http://www.ancient.eu/Roman_Standard/
The location of the falling objects was too far from Etna to have been ejecta from the volcano.