Bravio delle Botti in Montepulciano 2019

Historical re-enactements, the traditional barrel race and food and wine events in a wonderful hamlet

From 17 August 2019 to 25 August 2019

Bookable services
Transfer Tours & Activities

On August 25th Montepulciano, a stunning village in Val D'Orcia, will host a peculiar folklore event: the barrel race of Montepulciano. Yes, this time the much-desired 'palio' will not be fought by horses or other animals, but rather by barrels pushed by strong pushers. After all, we are in the land of the Noble of Montepulciano: barrels are quite on topic! Pushing them uphill is no light undertaking, since the alleys of this delightful medieval village climb steeply towards Piazza Grande, the destination of the race. What else to say? Montepulciano events come one after another throughout the year, but this historical re-enactment, where the classic costume parade is followed by many side events, will make this enchanting village even more fascinating!

What are the origins and the history of Bravio delle Botti? A statute of the Commune di Montepulciano dating as far back as 1373 contained references to the provisions on the palio as established in honor of the patron saint of Montepulciano (August 29th), and it also already mentioned the districts of Montepulciano. It seems that the districts of Montepulciano have remained unchanged since 1300! There are eight, each distinguished by its colors and its coat of arms: Cagnano, Colazzi, Coste, Gracciano, Poggiolo, San Donato, Tolosa and Voltaia. Originally each district had its institutional figures such as the rector who represented the district on particular occasions. In Montepulciano the oldest districts are the ‘sasso’ ones, which are located in the highest part of the village: San Donato, Tolosa and Poggiolo, while the others were considered on the same level of our suburbs! Do you know why it is called Bravio di Montepulciano? The word bravio comes from the Latin 'Bravium' which indicates the cloth painted with the image of San Giovanni Decollato, patron saint of Montepulciano, which is awarded to the winning contrada of the Palio di Siena and is painted by a different artist every year.

The recent history of Bravio delle Botti of Montepulciano began in 1974 when the parish priest Don Marcello de Balio had the idea of replacing the horses, which until then had run the race, with barrels. Since these precious containers are at the base of the delicious and famous Montepulciano noble wine, it is clear that the choice was anything but casual! So how does the barrel racing take place in Montepulciano? Simple: two pushers per district have to roll their barrel uphill; the path of the Bravio delle Botti consists of 800 meters starting from Colonna del Marzocco up to the parvis of the Duomo in Piazza Grande. Participants, drawn that same morning, start in two rows, each consisting of four barrels. They must immediately face a rapid climb, then in the wider stretch called Santa Maria some dare to do some overtaking, then follows a slightly downhill section (descent of Collazzi) where the pushers must be good at directing their barrels. Next, in Via Ricci, the ascent starts again, followed by the final rush until the arrival. Needless to say, adrenaline in Montepulciano during the Bravio delle Botti is sky high! Do you feel like experiencing this thrilling event? Well then, take a look at the full program of events starting on August 17th!




  • Saturday August 17th from 21.30: 'Proclama del Gonfaloniere'. The ‘Proclama del Gonfaloniere’ marks the beginning of the week of the Bravio delle Botti and the challenge between the districts. Starting from 21.30 the members of the various third parties will parade through the streets of the historic center to merge into Piazza Grande. From 22.00 the ceremony will start with the reading of the ‘Proclamation’, the set of regulations, which will be followed by the celebrations of the districts.
  • Sunday, August 18th from 15.30: presentation of the cloth in Montepulciano and prizegiving of the competition 'A tavola con il Nobile'The Sunday before the race is full of events on the occasion of the 2019 Montepulciano barrel race. It all kicks off at 15.30 from Colonna del Marzocco with the parade of Flag Weavers and drummers. At 16.00 at the Teatro Poliziano the award ceremony of the competition "A tavola con il nobile" will take place, as well as the Montepulciano presentation of the cloth. At 18.00 the cloth is displayed in Piazza Grande and celebrated by young and adult flag-wavers and tambourines of Montepulciano.
  • From Sunday August 18th to Friday August 23rd from 21.00: night trials of the pushers. From August 19th to 24th you'll be spoiled for choice for what to do in Montepulciano! In all the districts you will find food and wine stands where you can appreciate the local excellences while the streets of the town are full of rehearsals of the pushers of Montepulciano training for the final race.
  • Thursday August 22nd: Montepulciano ‘processione dei ceri’. Among the events of the barrel race week the procession of the candles is certainly one of the most evocative events. With electric lights turned off at 21.00, a procession lit by candles and torches will depart from Colonna del Marzocco. The participants, the flag-bearers, the tambourines and especially the candle holders take part. At 22.00 in Piazza Grande, the candles are offered in the name of San Giovani Decollato, after which the usual show will take place, a medieval show that changes every year and, as scripted...a fireworks display. Not bad, right?
  • Sunday August 25th from 22.00 Bravio delle Botti. This is the highlight of the Folklore of Montepulciano: the day of Bravio delle Botti! If you are wondering what is the best time to visit Montepulciano... well, this could be the perfect day to experience in an unforgettable way the ancient village of Val D'Orcia. It starts in the morning at 10.00 in Piazza Grande with the draw of the starting positions. The district representatives and the enactors come out of the Palazzo Comunale and at the same time the Barrels are fire-branded. At 12.00 at the cathedral hosts the offer of the candles in San Giovanni Decollato. At 15.00 from Colonna del Marzocco the historical parade starts, crossing the streets of the town until it joins Piazza Grande. At 19.00 the race will start, which lasts about 10 minutes, after which the prize will be awarded to the winners. Following, great celebrations in the winning district... a little less in the other!


Attending the Bravio delle Botti is definitely one of the top things to do in Montepulciano! Take advantage of this for a late summer holiday in wonderful Val D'Orcia and indulge yourself in the magical relaxing vibe of its surroundings!

If you prefer less crowded atmospheres and the days of Bravio scare you, worry not: you can always visit this wonderful village another time, taking advantage of one of our tours from Siena: Montepulciano, as noble as the wine  or Pienza and Montepulciano from Siena . It doesn’t get any better!

The choice is yours!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff