2016 Bravio delle Botti
The Bravio delle Botti, Barrel Racing takes place on the last Sunday of August along the main streets of Montepulciano. It's a challenge between the eight Contradas, or districts within the city that compete for a painted cloth banner. The two athletes, called Spingitori, roll barrels in an uphill race until they reach the churchyard of the Duomo in Piazza Grande.
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 to a competition with barrels. 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.
Since my friend lived in the 'Gracciano' district, we were strongly rooting for our team to win.
Each district proudly flew their flags and the neighbors living within the area hustled to get a good position in a doorway before the race.
I got caught up in the excitement of cheering, though the sight of strong sweaty men pushing barrels was exciting in itself.
"Go Gracciano !!"
"Wait, please tell me we're not last ?"
Alas, our cheers were in vain and we were not victorious. The dreaded 'Voltaia' district pulled ahead in the end or perhaps the beginning.
Here's a pre race photo of a competing team. Don't let their smiles fool you. This is a serious competition. They are plotting.
This Gracciano teammate wanted to run, though his velvet outfit was a bit restricting.
The loss was felt strongly amongst the elders of the district.
But what would a race be without a feast at the end.
Even the runners, or Spingitori, celebrated. They were happy the race was over and dinner has begun.
Though some members of Gracciano did not partake in the festivities and were busy planning for next years Bravio. Perhaps we need more women runners ?
For future years to come, the city of Montepulciano will continue its tradition of running the Bravio delle Botti and bring excitement to its residents and tourists. I'm just hoping next year my girlfriend will be living in the winner's district.
Congratulations to 'Voltaia' for an impressive win and an even more impressive victory parade.