If You Were Here Now

If you were at Borgo di Vagli in your Tuscan residence in the coming month, below are a few attractions to consider visiting.

Palio of Mannaja
Pietralonga (near perugia)
4th to 8th August

The Palio of Mannaja has become, for some years now, the most important event of the City of Pietralunga; the inhabitants of the town live this party with such trepidation that their passion is able to actively involve those who are just passing through the area. The event, which is recognized as one of the most important of Umbria, was founded in 1982 with the idea of the historical pietralunghese Antonio Mountain and is inspired by a true story that took place on September 11, 1334 with Giovanni di Lorenzo of Picardy, a French pilgrim.

While crossing the territory of "Pratalonga"on his way to Lucca for the Feast of the Holy Cross, the man found the corpse of another recently killed, and was wrongly accused of his murder and sentenced to death.

The poor man turned with confidence towards the Holy Face to whom he was direct and prayed, and when the time for the execution came the executioner, to his great astonishment saw the blade of the mannaja turn on itself: the man's life was thus spared and a miracle was proclaimed. Of this story there are many examples, such as the letter written by Branca Branci, mayor of Pietralunga, and the same mannaja is kept at the Cathedral of Lucca.

The event is meant to remember this miracle and to recreate a slice of medieval life. Throughout the week, in addition to the beautiful medieval costumes of the pageant that parades through the streets of the town on Sunday afternoon at 5 o’clock, you can see the shops, inns and taverns that animate the city center. On the evening of the Thursday, the traditional and spectacular Palio in the beautiful Piazza Sette Maggio, at the foot of Lombard Fortress, surrounded by the great walls of the Palazzo Fiorucci, the Church and the Town Hall, is the backdrop to the investiture of the captains of villages and districts, while on Saturday night, the historical re-enactment of the miracle is displayed and you can watch the Solidi Solidis Archers challenge as they that demonstrae their archery skills.

The heart of the festival remains, however, the impressive run of Biroccio. To contend for the Palio race with the race through the town’s streets are the 5 districts: Borgo De Sopra, Borgo De Sotto, Quartiere del Monte, Quartiere delle Valcelle e Quartiere del Piscinale. The winner will be the neighborhood, able to push the 430 pound wagon which dates back to the Middle Ages used for transporting prisoners to their death, in the shortest time. The church tower bell, also symbol of the town announces the start and finish of the race. For further information please click here

Palio dei Terzieri
Città della Pieve
12th – 24th August

In 1250 the Terzieri are appointed for the first time in the act of submission to Perugia after a very short interval of autonomy and freedom due to the protection of the Emperor Frederick II. Known as Castel del Pieve this was from the city of the Griffin.

The final urban design dates back to the city and it is now almost unchanged to the present day; it is characterized by a silhouette of the city that in some way recalls that of an eagle in a threatening way to Rome. I Terzieri originate from the breakdown of the medieval city into three portions of land, the eagle parts are identified with the Terzieri, which in turn are based on three social classes: the head corresponds to the third castle of the knights or class (aristocracy), the belly Terziere Borgo Dentro (Bourgeoisie), the wing-tail Terziere Casalino or Class of Pedestrians (Farmers).

Today the Knights of Terzieri evoke the ancient hunting del Toro, challenging each other in the art of archery, striking silhouettes representing the breed of Chianina bulls fixed on mobile platforms.

The historical Pallium, challanged each year by Terzieri, is a beautiful tapestry painted by the master Pievesi Antonio Marrone, depicting archers in the act of paying tribute to the Master of the Field (judge of the race), before the signal for the competition to commence.

The day of the Launch of the Challenge, August 15, the Pallium is returned by the Terziere winner of the previous edition into the hands of the Mayor of Castel della Pieve, where it will be jealously preserved in the municipal seat until the day of the Bull Hunt o Caccia del Toro, to appear in the grand parade preceded by the city banner. For more details click here

Steak Festival (Sagra della Bistecca)
14/15/16 August from 6.00 pm to 11.00 pm

La Sagra della Bistecca in Cortona is one of the most important food events in Cortona and is held every year at the “Giardini del Parterre” (public gardens). T-bone steaks strictly Chianina beef are grilled, according to the old Tuscan tradition, on the largest barbeque in Italy. The menu also includes vegetables, fruit, bread and fine wine or Chianti Cortona Doc. At the “Sagra della Bistecca” you will find not only steaks but also stands with typical Tuscan foods from the Cortona area. See you there! For further details click here

Palio dell’Assunta di Siena
Piazza del Campo, Siena
August 16

"Piazza del Campo" is still used today for the well known Palio horse race which is one of the most famous popular Italian events. It takes place every year on July 2 and August 16. The Palio is run to celebrate the miraculous apparition of the Virgin Mary near the old houses that belonged to Provenzano Salvani. The holy apparition was therefore called "Madonna di Provenzano" in whose honour the very first Palio was run on August 16, 1656.

The Palio was run for the first time in 1701 in honour of the "Madonna dell'Assunta" the patroness and Advocate of Siena through all the tragic events since she protected the Sienese militia at the famous battle of Monteaperti on September 4, 1260, against the Florentines.

The Palio is a historical secular tradition strictly connected with the origin of the Contradas of Siena (districts into which the town is divided). The Contradas are spectacular agonistic institutions each having their own government, oratory, coat of arms, appellations, sometimes titles of nobility, emblems and colours, official representatives, festivities, patron Saints, with protectors, delimited territories and population which consist of all those people who were born or live within the topographic limits of the district, according to the proclamation issued by Violante Beatrice of Bavaria on January 7, 1730, at that time, Governess of the town.

Originally, there were about fifty-nine "Contrade"; now only seventeen remain, ten of which take part in the historical pageant and in the race at each Palio (seven by right and three drawn by lots).

Here is a list of their names, emblems and colours grouped into "Terzi" or "Terzieri" (in olden times the town was divided into three sections called: "Terziere di Città", "Terziere di San Martino" and "Terziere di Camollia").


The Siena Cathedral
August 18th - October 17th 2014

The Cathedral of Siena is, without a doubt, one of the most spectacular buildings that you can visit in Tuscany, but its real treasure is actually the one that’s normally kept out of sight, and you’re walking all over it!

The entire floor of Siena’s Cathedral is one of the most incredible works of art of all time: a spectacularly inlaid marble mosaic floor, something described by Giorgio Vasari as “the most beautiful, largest and most magnificent floor that ever was made.

Crafted by about forty artists and artisans between the 14th and 16th centuries, the 56 panels that constitute the floor vary in size and shape – most of them have a rectangular shape, some a hexagon or a rhombus one – and are made mainly by two different techniques: one known as graffito (tiny holes and cutting lines created in the marble and then filled with black stucco and mineral pitch) and the one called “marble intarsia” (black, white, green, red and blue marble employed in much the same manner as wood inlaying). For further details click here



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