Umbria Blog | A wine barrel race in Montepulciano Tuscany

The Bravio delle Botti or the race of the barrels, is an annual race in Montepulciano Tuscany on the last Sunday of August. The Bravio used to be a horse race, but since Montepulciano is famous for its Vino Nobile di Montepulciano in 1974 the idea was born to run with wine barrels instead. The different quarters of Montepulciano compete against each other to win the “Bravium”, a painted banner of the patron saint: San Giovanni Decollato.

The weight of one wine barrel is 80 kg. During the race the pushers, spingitori, push the heavy wooden wine barrels for 1.8 km uphill along the medieval streets of Montepulciano.

In the last week of the month of August many activities are held anticipating this event. Montepulciano is decorated with flags of the different quarters of town, the contrade. In the evenings the barrel pushers have their training in town and the tavernes of every contrade serve traditional dishes and local wine.

On Thursday evening is the costume parade in the historical centre, the “Corteo dei Ceri”, organised by all eight contrades. Flag wavers, drummers and participants in costume present life from a past long gone. The piazza is crowded with people watching the beautiful performance. This evening ends with exciting fireworks.


The Bravio of the Barrels, the run itself, is always on Sunday. The most important race during this medieval event. It is a moment of real competition between the eight contrade. The start of the race is at the Colonna del Marzocco in the lower art of town and the finish is on the Piazza Grande.

Before the race is the historical parade, starting at 3 p.m. The two runners of each district have a warming up while the parade departs from the Colonna del Marzocco to the Piazza Grande.


After the start signal the districts run away very fast with the heavy barrel. Many residents run along to encourage the spingitori to keep them going. On the huge display on the Piazza Grande you can follow the race every second. It is really exciting!

Voltaia won the race of the Bravio delle Botti 2017. They ran in 8.34 minutes. Al other districts arrived after 9 minutes with the last one being Cagnano with 9.48 minutes. You can just imagine the excitement of the public with such little difference between the participants.

The locals of the districts screamed and were full of emotions during the race. Even if their district didn’t win, they are proud of their pushers. The Bravio always ends in a good atmosphere. Everybody eats and drinks together to celebrate the Bravio.

Three day Quote Challenge Day 2

I really like this challenge! Thank you again for nominating us. Now it is my turn to publish an Italian Quote.

This is very appropriate to Italians: “A meal without wine is a day without sunshine”.

Wine Tuscany

Gattavecchi wine

This quote is from Anthelme Brillat Savarin.

Drinking wine is an Italian ritual for any meal, lunch or dinner. It is an approved beverage like drinking water with your meal.

I have chosen for this picture of the Quotidiano wine. Quotidiano means “daily”. On the bottle you see a label with news in Italy from 100 years ago. This is a beautiful wine project by the Gattavecchi winery in Montepulciano, Tuscany. The meaning of the Quotidiano wine is to bring wine culture and art together in one bottle. This wine is a good “vino da tavola” and ideal to combine with every meal.

Wine should be consumed in moderation of course : bevi consapevole, brinda “alla salute”. (Drink consciously and toast to good health.)

I love Italian wine with my meal, you? Do you drink wine every day with lunch or dinner, or only at special occasions?

As Saskia wrote in the previous blog, quote of day 1, I will nominate three bloggers on the last day. Stay tuned for the third quote!

-post by Sylvia van der Male-

sagra and wine tasting in Montepulciano

Last weekend we organized a spontaneous wine tasting for a group of Belgian guests. Five families and friends who were in Italy for the first time. Every year they go on holiday together and this time they decided to come to Umbria to Montone Rental. They contacted us for information about sagra’s or a winetasting.

A sagra is a typical Italian event, which is very popular by locals. The only way to find out about sagra’s is to watch out for pamphlets or posters in the area you’re in. Typical local food is prepared by locals for locals, combined with lots of wine and some music to cheer up the evening. We wrote a blog about sagra’s last year.

In Montallese, a small village in Tuscany close to Chiusi and not far away from the Trasimeno Lake, was the “Sagra della Nana”. Nana is dialect for duck. A friend of mine, Gianfranco, is a cook and prepares the most delicious “duck” dishes of Tuscany. I already had the intention to go to the sagra and I invited our Belgian guests to let them experience this typical Italian evening.

Before the sagra I organized a wine tasting at the Gattavecchi wine cellar in Montepulciano, one of these beautiful hill top towns in Tuscany at a stone’s throw from Lake Trasimeno in Umbria. Montepulciano is well known for its Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. This wine is made from 100% Sangiovese (Prugnolo Gentile) grape and is also called the king of wines. In 1980 it was awarded the DOCG classification.

The family Gattavecchi has been in the wine business in Montepulciano for 4 generations. During the Second World War grandfather Vincenzo was forced to stop his wine activity because of bombings. But after the war the family Gattavecchi rebuilt the business and ever since then the wine they produce is a worldwide appreciated Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The vineyards from the Gattavecchi family are situated in the southern part of Montepulciano: Argiano, Le Caggiole, Ascianello and Poggio alla Sala. Poggio alla Sala is an area where the Etruscans used to live, and where archeological artifacts have been found.

The wines are stored in the wine cellar Simoneschi Baroncelli in Montepulciano. This wine cellar has been bought in 1958 by the family Gattavecchi and once belonged to the 14th century monastery of the Padri Serviti. The wine matures in wooden barrels in deep wine cellars dug into tuff stone. Immediately next to the old monastery there is the church of Santa Maria dei Servi.

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We got a guided tour by Luca Gattavecchi. Luca is the owner and winemaker. He perfectly explained the history of the Gattavecchi family and told us about the wine production of the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. He showed us the deep wine cellars where the wine ages in big wooden barrels.

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We tasted three different kinds of red wine accompanied with bread, olive oil, cheese and cold cuts:

Rosso di Montepulciano DOC
Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG
Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG Riserva dei Padri Serviti

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After the wine tasting and with somewhat shaking legs, we took a stroll in Montepulciano and ended the evening at the sagra in Montallese. It was busy and chaotic, but we found two long tables and enjoyed the lovely duck meal with beer, wine and panna cotta!

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A nice afternoon and evening, to be repeated!

-post by Sylvia van der Male-