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The Bravio delle Botti in Montepulciano

An uphill wine barrel race between the neighborhoods of town

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 which takes place in Montepulciano on the last Sunday of August (confirmed for 2021).

The wonderful and scenic medieval city of Montepulciano located south of Siena and which boasts spectacular panoramas of the surrounding area, becomes the special setting for this amazing town race. The "Bravio delle Botti" is an exciting competition between the 8 "contrade" (districts) of the town which 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 in Piazza Grande.

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 which is right in front of the beautiful Duomo in Piazza Grande. Along the way, many other residents and fans run alongside each team to encourage them to keep going!

"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.

one of the contrada in Montepulciano parades on the Bravio delle Botti festival

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 including the various contradas marching through the streets throughout the day.

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 experience to enjoy in Tuscany! For more details, including this year's program, visit the official site for the Bravio delle Botti on the official website

Author: Lourdes Flores

I'm from California but have called Florence my home for over a decade. I love to explore Italy; it is a lot of fun to try to see everything like I'm seeing it for the first time, keeping you, our readers, always in mind. I enjoy sharing what I know and helping others as they make their travel plans for Tuscany through our Forum. If you have itinerary-related questions, please post them there!


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