HE MOST IMPORTANT festival
in this region is Siena’s Palio (seep218), but the Sagra del Tordo, or Festival of the Thrush, is also a great attraction.
It takes place in Montalcino (see pp220-21) on the last Sunday in October. The 14th-century Fortezza (castle) is the setting for an archery contest which is fought in traditional costume by members of the town’s four contrade. This is accompanied by considerable consumption of the local red Brunello wine and, much to the horror of many bird-lovers, of charcoal-grilled thrush.
Archery at the Festival of the Thrush in Montalcino
The festival is essentially an excuse for gastronomic over-indulgence, and a celebration of its thriving local economy, which is based on olive oil and wine production. Brunello is widely regarded as one of the finest of Italian wines.
Visitors are welcome to participate, and more conventional specialities, such as porchetta (roast suckling pig), are available for those who prefer not to eat songbirds. Archery competitions are also held in Montalcino during August to mark the beginning of the hunting season.
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