Bravio delle Botti

At the tail end of summertime, in a Renaissance city of exceptional beauty, eight districts stage a spirited competition for a coveted painted banner.

Montepulciano hosts "Bravio delle Botti," a historic tradition where the entire town gets together to celebrate and compete.

"Bravio delle Botti," is not as crazy as the horse racing in neighboring Siena, but the late summer celebration is not as crowded or dangerous either. First comes a parade with historic brightly colored costumes, then the real show begins: teams of men, led by two spingitori push a 80 kilo wooden barrel uphill through the city for 1,800 meters, cumulating their efforts on the steps of the cathedral in the Piazza Grande.

The first to finish takes home a coveted silk banner, securing bragging rights for the following year. And this small Tuscan city's knows how to celebrate the finish – after the race the local wine begins to flow with toasts to the victorious, consolations to the losers, and more swigs for the spectators, ensuring everyone is red-lipped and slurring "salute" by the end of the night.

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