Thrush festival

Thrush festival of Montalcino

On the last weekend of October the atmosphere is tense. The weekend is filled with pageantry, history, processions, rivalry and excitement. The four neighbourhoods of Montalcino close ranks, wear their own colours, and, as the hours pass and festivities begin, the rivalry and passions of the citizens reach fever pitch, culminating in a hotly contested archery tournament on Sunday afternoon.
Thrush festival of MontalcinoIn this tournament the ancient archery skills of the Montalcinesi are tested, and the winning archers bring glory and honour to their neighbourhood.
Thousands of visitors arrive in Montalcino to witness this passionate festival. If you would like to be here to share this extraordinary event, booking is absolutely essential as accommodation is limited and you must be in Montalcino before the festival begins – or face a several kilometre walk uphill on the day of the Tournament – because your car will be parked away down in the valley!

Village Neighbourhoods
There are four neighbourhoods of Montalcino. They are called Quartiere, and their names are: Pianello Travaglio Ruga and Borghetto. Each Quartiere has its own territory inside the walls of the village, its own headquarters, its own emblem and flag, its own colours, and a team of archers.

Sagra del tordoSaturday
The Reading of the Proclamation: Saturday dawns, and already the air is filled with the sound of beating drums. The citizens of Montalcino gather below the windows of the ancient town hall and, to the sound of the trumpets, hear the proclamation and the nomination of the archers who will shoot in the tournament tomorrow.

Archery Trials are held in the afternoon to determine the firing sequence of the archers tomorrow, and also to determine the ultimate shooting distance.

The Dinner for the Archers
Each Quartiere prepares for a night of feasting and chanting in their neighbourhood at the traditional dinner to celebrate the tournament and to cheer the archers to victory. A four course dinner of Montalcinesi cuisine will be prepared by the Quartiere cooks, and served by the youngsters. More than two hundred people from each Quartiere will sit down to dinner, and end the evening with chanting and singing for their archers.

An All Day Medieval Feast
Beginning early this morning a delicious feast of Wine and Food takes place inside the Fortress keep. The food is cooked in temporary kitchens the Quartiere erect inside the fortress for the weekend. The smell of bruschetta, crostini, grilled polenta, many pasta dishes, roasted meats, soups, steaks and sausages which are roasted over open braziers, fills the air. The Feast will go on all day long. Of course, Rosso di Montalcino and Brunello di Montalcino is sold by the glass. No sense in eating the cuisine of Montalcino without enjoying the wines as well!

The Morning Pageant
By mid morning white Tuscan Chianini cattle and the Trescone dancers gather in Piazza Cavour ready for the procession. Next, more than 100 Montalcino citizens dressed in wonderful 14th century medieval costumes begin the historic pageant, accompanied by drummers and trumpeters, and make their way to the Piazza to pay homage and bring gifts from the bountiful woods to the Lady of the Fortress. The pageant proceeds to the Church of Sant Egidio for the Benediction.

The Sagra del Tordo Lunch
A delicious lunch is offered in each Quartiere, guests of honour being those who have participated in the morning pageant, including the archers. It is a celebration of the traditional plates of Montalcino, a time to be among your neighbourhood friends, and to cheer the archers on to victory.

The Afternoon Pageant
Everyone is ready for the main parade of the day. The air is filled with excitement as the pageant winds its way through the village on the way to the fortress. It takes more than an hour for the pageant to reach the archery range, and they pass through the village to the sound of drums and trumpets, following behind the ancient Standard of Montalcino born high above their heads.

The Archery Tournament
The silver trumpets rise and the drums beat as excitement reaches fever pitch. The archery range is ready, the judges are ready, the pageant has arrived, and now the archers must test their skills. Two archers from each Quartiere contest the honour of being the most accurate, bravest archers of Montalcino. Two archers will bring glory and honour to their Quartiere.

The Victory
The winning archers and their supporters make their way, chanting and singing, back to their Quartiere to ring the victory bells.


Montalcino: discover the surroundings

  • Sant'Antimo abbey Sant'Antimo abbey
    However the abbey of Sant'Antimo existed in the year 814 as it testifies a diploma of Ludovico the Pious one that enriches the abbey of gifts and privileges.
    Read more
  • Montalcino Montalcino
    Montalcino rises in the heart of southern Tuscany. In the Middle Age the territory of Montalcino was divided between four ecclesiastical areas: Arezzo, Chiusi, Grosseto and Siena.
    Read more
  • Val D'Oricia park Val D'Oricia park
    The territory of the Val d'Orcia is made up, mainly of a hilly landscape with gently rolling hills and valleys typical of the Sienese Crete and a rich variety of vegetation.
    Read more
  • Bibbiano Castle Bibbiano Castle (9 km)
    The Bibbiano castle was the property of the Longobard Count Guinigi di Reghinari at the time of Ludovico II.
    Read more
  • Buonconvento Buonconvento (9 km)
    The circuit of strong defense walls, the architectural style of which recalls that of Siena, once enclosed the entire village of Buonconvento like a cocoon around a butterfly.
    Read more
  • Bagno Vignoni Bagno Vignoni (9 km)
    Bagno Vignoni name derives from Vignoni, castle already known in the XI century, whose traces dominate the high ground above the suburb, and from the thermal waters used since the Roman epoch.
    Read more
  • San Quirico d'Orcia San Quirico d'Orcia (9 km)
    San Quirico is Etruscan in origin, and cinerary urns and other funeral objects and vessels found here are now kept in the Etruscan archeological museum in Siena.
    Read more
  • Castiglione d'Orcia Castiglione d'Orcia (12 km)
    Sets on the summit of a back not too far from the Cassia, Castiglione of Orcia it is a small predominantly agricultural and handicraft center.
    Read more
  • San Giovanni d'Asso San Giovanni d'Asso (13 km)
    San Giovanni d'Asso is located from the hill dominating the valley of the Asso torrent the Crete and offer a magic and atmospheres of a pure and perfumed land.
    Read more
  • Murlo Murlo (15 km)
    The municipal territory of Murlo extends for 114,79 square kilometres between the valley of the river Merse and that of the Ombrone.
    Read more
  • Pienza Pienza (15 km)
    Pienza, small jewel of the Renaissance in the heart in Tuscany, in the province in Siena, to the center of one of the most beautiful zones in Italy and richer than treasures of art.
    Read more
  • Civitella Paganico Civitella Paganico (18 km)
    Civitella Paganico is located within the Province of Grosseto.
    Read more
  • Monteroni d'Arbia Monteroni d'Arbia (20 km)
    Monteroni today still expresses the vitality of this land, thanks to considerable craft production and the traditional market.
    Read more
  • Cinigiano Cinigiano (20 km)
    Cinigiano is a charming agricultural town on one of the sloping hills descending from Monte Amiata.
    Read more
  • Asciano Asciano (20 km)
    The city of Asciano is on high ground in the upper Ombrone valley, on the old Via Lauretana.
    Read more
  • Monte Oliveto Maggiore abbey Monte Oliveto Maggiore abbey (20 km)
    Monte Oliveto Maggiore is a Congregation, found in a marvellous spot just south of Siena, in what is characteristic of this countryside, the crete senesi.
    Read more