I only have ten minutes before class, but we stumbled into an adventure last night on our way back from a delicious seafood dinner at Pentolaccia (a fuori = outside). We heard drumming, and we walked down a side street to discover boys playing drums and practicing throwing flags in the air. We asked some locals about it.
Montepulciano has eight contrade or neighborhoods, and they’ve been having this festival/competition since 1604! Two men from each contrada roll a wine barrel up and down the streets in a race. This particular contrada, Vaultaia, which means vault, won last year and, apparently, wins most years. We asked a man about it, and he led us into the vault under the church, for which they are named. He said it’s the only vault under a church in all of Italy. We were asking questions, and he said: Aspetto, which means wait. We did, and sure enough he showed us this entire video of their contrada winning last year’s race, and then one of the runners (or barrel pushers) walked in, the champion, and we all congratulated him. Bravio Delle Botti translates as: I love the barrels. Each barrel weighs 84 kilos.
I found the video on Youtube. It was so fun watching it with the Vaultaia members and cheering Bravo as they finally overtook the first place runners. The link is 12 minutes, so you might want to skip it and jump to the pictures below. Sorry for poor quality, but it was at night.