Best time to go to Tuscany

Sagra del Tordo 2019

A medieval festival in Montalcino, with an archery competition between the districts

Sagra del Tordo (Thrush Festival or Feast of the Thrush) is the most important event of the year in the city of Montalcino, province of Siena. The medieval festivities have been held here since 1958, on the last weekend of October, with the whole town participating in the preparation of an array of exciting activities. Historical re-enactments, archery contests, and falconry displays are just a few of them. Visitors can also indulge in medieval feasts and famous Brunello di Montalcino wine.

Archery competition at the Sagra del tordo in Montalcino 2020
Archery competition at the Sagra del tordo in Montalcino

This two-day event usually starts on Saturday with folk performances on the streets of the city. Many Montalcino residents get dressed in 14th-century style clothing to parade the streets, while dancers and singers call the townsfolk to come and participate. The historical parade starts from the Piazza Cavour and through the lavishly decorated four Quarters of the city (Borghetto, Pianello, Ruga, Travaglio), towards the Piazza del Popolo accompanied by drums and clarions.

Montalcino has been known for the seasonal growth of the thrush bird population, as it lies on bird migration routes. The city had a falconry and hunting tradition since the Middle Ages when it was the favourite sport for noblemen. Every year, during Sagra del Tordo, each of the four districts of Montalcino sends two delegates dressed in their historical colours to challenge each other in an archery contest.

Sagra del Tordo officially begins at the square near the Town Hall, and a flock of thrushes are freed to symbolize its start. After the competition, everybody has a chance to try Maremma’s fall specialties—pappardelle, pinci pasta, quail roast, polenta, tripe—and taste Montalcino wines.