Sagra del Tordo at Montalcino
There are no documents, but there are reasonable grounds to believe that twenty centuries ago in the ancient Montalcino were organized tournaments and rides, dances and huge banquets. The hypothesis is based on a known fact: the bushes around the hill on which up from the Etruscan era is laying the town, were populated by a great number of birds.
Now things have changed but in Roman times the thrush in particular were so numerous that the Gaius Mecenate, the smart adviser of the Emperor Augustus, organized a profitable trade, buying them from local hunters and selling at high prices to the rich and gluttonous Romans.
These are the reasons that are suggested as inspiring the memorable day that is lived every October in Montalcino. A day - the last Sunday of the month - organized according to a precise script with a double meaning: to pay tribute to the thrush and enhance the skills in the armeggiare (handle weapons) of Montalcinesi.
So, while the streets and squares of the medieval town house a gastronomic offer of grilled and roasted game, in the afternoon there is an archery tournament.
The mighty fortress that witnessed the strong defence, in 1558, of the Sienese escapees led by Piero Strozzi, is the charming scenic background of the annual challenge between two representatives of the four districts into which is divided Montalcino.
The challenge is accomplished by means of arrows, without any technological mean that goes beyond a bar of wood and an elastic rope.
At the end of the challenge there is a procession in traditional costumes that proceeds slowly through the streets and ends up in the Central Square.
The winners are given a prize, and everything remains faithful to the character of the festival, with large banquets (better if accompanied with Brunello wine) and dancing on the tunes of the classic “trescone”.
Where: Montalcino. Archery challenge at the stadium, food and wine in the town centre
When: The last Sunday of October