The Thrush Fest in Montalcino
Since 1958 Montalcino holds the Thrush Fest on the last Sunday of October. This is a popular festival which comes from the ancient hunting tradition in the area.
This event commemorates the medieval times, when hunters and falconers went to the countryside in search of their prey, and came back laden and euphoric. At their arrival they were greeted with feasts and banquets in which all the village was involved.
The main protagonists of the event are the four neighbourhoods of Montalcino : Borghetto, Pianello, Ruga and Travaglio, which hold a stiff archery competition which becomes the most intense of rivalries.
The festival starts in the morning with the youngest people of the town dressed in typical Tuscan costumes of the last century. With their songs and dances they invite all visitors to participate in the events to be celebrated all day in Montalcino.
Simultaneously the parade stars from the central Piazza Cavour, with costume dressed participants walking in the streets of the town, which has been decorated for the feast with the striking colours of the neighbourhood flags.
The sound of drums accompanies the tour that recreates one of those old days of hunting. The ritual includes a speech from the Civic Tower of Montalcino where the celebration of the feast is formally opened.
At the same time, and contrary to what was happening in the Middle Ages, several cowbirds are released and they undertake flight. The procession continues until the old church of S. Egidio, in Piazza Garibaldi, where all the participants in the afternoon tournament are blessed.
During this Sunday it is possible to enjoy the most typical products of Montalcino such as the "papardelle with wild boar," the "pici al sugo," (handmade pasta with meat sauce), bean soup, grilled meat, and, of course, all the food is perfectly accompanied by the famous Montalcino wine.
In the afternoon, after lunch, the archers go the tournament field. Then it is possible to feel all the strong rivalries between the neighborhoods, and this is specially reflected in the archers.
There are two archers representing each neighbourhood in this colourful competition. Each of them can shoot arrows in five games of four sets.
The winner is the the neighbourhood which hits the most targets during the competition. The prize is a commemorative silver arrow. The feast for the victory does not end that day. The winners will continue to celebrate their silver arrow during the entire winter!