No Bulls – Just Barrels
Each Italian festival has its own particular charm, but if you are looking for a curious and original event, then I suggest the exhilarating spectacle offered by the “Bravio delle Botti”, an annual event that always takes place in Montepulciano on the last Sunday of August.
The wonderful and scenic medieval city of Montepulciano located south of Siena and boasting spectacular panoramas, becomes the special setting for this amazing exhibition. The “Bravio delle Botti” is an exciting race between the 8 “contrade” (districts) of the town that seek to win the “Bravio”, the painted cloth banner depicting the city’s patron saint. The winners receive the “bravio” at the end of the race.
The competition is very challenging and will literally take your breath away; the contestants for each contrada push huge and heavy “botti” (wooden wine barrels) for about a kilometer uphill along the narrow streets of Montepulciano’s historical center. Each barrel is pushed by two strong “spingitori” or pushers up to the finish line that is right in front of the beautiful Duomo inPiazza Grande.
“Il Bravio delle Botti” is steeped with the town’s traditions, its origins going back to the 14th century when the race was actually run on horseback! Only in more recent times the race has been transformed in a competition with barrels. Indeed, since Montepulciano is famous worldwide for its fine red wine “Nobile di Montepulciano”, the idea came about of using wine barrels for the districts to compete against each other.
Il Bravio delle Botti can be a perfect excuse (if one was needed!) to visit one of the most beautiful art cities of Tuscany and enjoy local traditional dishes and the superb wine of Montepulciano while enjoying a special event for the locals.
On this occasion, the city itself is even more beautiful, totally adorned with flags and decorations displaying the various contrada colours. The day of the race starts early, with a series of suggestive and fascinating ceremonies and events taking place.
The costume parade which winds along the streets of the historical center is a real delight! Knights, noblemen and noble ladies, all in their spectacular costumes, will take you back in time to enjoy the magical and suspended atmosphere of the Middle Ages – truly a unique experienceto enjoy in Tuscany.