Five Race Festivals around Tuscany
Throughout the year in Italy there are always a plethora of festivals, generic
Il Palio del Siena July/August
This famous bare back horse race is held twice a year in the massive Piazza del Campo in the heart of the Medieval town. The festival, which dates back to the 14th century sees riders from ten of the sixteen local districts compete in the fast paced, dangerous race. There is much pageantry and parading before the race and upwards of 50,000 people are packed into every possible vantage point to witness the spectacle.
Lo Spino Pievi Santo Stefano – June
The Lo Spino is a nosebleed, 12 km uphill car race in the rugged foothills of Southern Tuscany’s Apennine Mountains. Held every June, this fast and furious race features both modified, modern cars and vintage classics all speeding up the twisting, turning course between Pieve Santo Stefano and Verna. A noisy, adrenaline filled weekend that car enthusiasts will adore.
Chariot Race, Valiano Castle – September
Every year a famous chariot race is held in the grounds of Castle Valiano near Montepulciano, here brave members of the local towns and villages set out on a chaotic circuit of the castles course.
Montepulciano “Bravio delle botti” – August
The Bravio delle Botti in Montepulciano is a wine barrel race on the last Sunday in August. Teams of two people push large wooden barrels along an 1,800 metres course, uphill to the finish line at the town’s cathedral in Piaza Grande. The festival dates back to the 14th century and celebrates the harvest of the grapes and was originally done on horseback. There is always much bright pageantry, music and medieval costume at this event, followed by tables of delicious, locally produced meals.
Regatta di San Ranieri, Pisa – June
Part of a three day festival in Pisa which includes a candlelit parade, the battle of the bridge and a boat race along 1,500 meters of the River Arno. The festival in honor of Pisa’s patron saint also celebrates the towns prestigious maritime past. The boats with eight oarsmen and a helmsmen row from the railway bridge to the Palazzo Medici. The winner is the first climber to ascend a 10 meter pole and grab their correct flag, and not the first boat across the finish line.