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The Montefalco Festival of the Bulls

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June 2, 2014 / Italian / By
Anna

Montefalco has a festival associated with bull running in the first two weeks of August; the Fuga del Bove, the flight of the ox.

Actually, the bull running, which happens on the evening of the last night, is not at all like the bull running in Spain. It is more a case of rather tame, pampered young bulls racing against each other in timed events with the encouragement of fit young Italian men who have raised them and trained them over the summer. Great care is taken not to tire the young bulls, which is charming in itself and typically Italian, but it does mean the event takes a long time to complete. Worth a look though.

But there is so much more to the festival. Each night, in the main piazza, there is a performance of some kind and it is wonderful to see how involved the young people of Montefalco are in the festival. In fact, without these enthusiasts, there would be no festival.

Sometimes the main event is a flag-throwing competition, more interesting and skillful than you might imagine. Sometimes there is a medieval costume display. There is also a crossbow competition. For weeks before the festival starts, the hills around Montefalco thrum at night to the sounds of the young people practicing for the drumming competition. And in between these competitions there are various musical events featuring popular Italian artists. Many of these events are offered free of charge, but even when there is a charge, it is reasonable.

Montefalco fills with people night after night. It is wonderful to sit back and watch the parade of elegant women and handsome men, some with babies sleeping soundly as their parents push the buggies staunchly up the very steep main street of Montefalco.

The food is a big attraction as with every festival in Umbria. There is little sense of a credit crunch when you see taverna tables packed night after night. But the food is very reasonably priced. As is usually the case, each quarter offers a different menu in a unique setting. For example, San Fortunato has the tables set up in a courtyard with an unbeatable view of the Vale of Spoleto. Montefalco is known as the “balcony of Umbria” after all.

The other three quarters have interesting venues, one in a cloister on the main street, one in a small enclosed piazza among lovely old houses and one, San Bartolomeo, in a garden hidden behind a stone wall. Follow the smell of BBQ and the shower of wood sparks to find it. The meat is mouthwatering and this tavern is famous for its huge antipasti platter.

From eight until late the wooden benches are packed with family groups talking, eating and drinking as they celebrate the soft summer evenings. One refreshing feature of these festivals is that you never see any loutish, drunken behavior. There is plenty of wine and youthful exuberance, but no overindulgence.

As with other Umbrian festivals, the town is divided into quarters and they compete in many events for the honour of winning the Palio, a banner painted by an artist chosen from the region. This is one of several by local artist Alison Ryde.


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Country: Italy

Province/State: Umbria

City: Montefalco

Address: N/A

Zip/Post Code: N/A

Location Tips: N/A

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Price Guide:$ (What's this?) N/A = home cooked meal,etc
$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc

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