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Barrels of fun in Nizza Monferrato

This year, the weekend of June 9th and 10th played host to one of the most energetic, fun and chaotic traditions in Nizza Monferrato, our neighbour village.

This particular tradition can be dated back to the 19th century and the annual event attracts quite a crowd here in Piedmont. I am of course talking about Corsa delle Botti or The Race of the Barrels, a competition of strength and skill that consists of pushing heavy wine barrels over weighing no less than 100kg through the narrow streets of the Nizza Monferrato.

Photo by: adrianaobertophotography

So how did the tradition of Corsa delle Botti come about? Well, shopkeepers and wine merchants used to deliver their wine barrels by hand. This method of delivery consisted of rolling the huge, heavy barrels down the road to their desired destinations. Sometimes two opposing shopkeepers would engage in competition as each raced to beat the other to their destination. Thus, the tradition was born and has grown into the treasured entertainment that it is today. La Corsa delle Botti is now a popular competition between Wine Companies, Wine Shops, Regional Wine Shops and Producers' Associations located in and around Nizza Monferrato, and the competition draws in crowds of thousands who enjoy the festivities every year.

Photo: @m.a.r.i.n.e.l.l.a

Corsa delle Botti is no half-hearted affair. Each company places their chance at the title in the hands of 3 to 4 of their best and strongest athletes. Each team member must push the barrel by themselves for as much distance as possible before the next teammate switches in. A strict jury oversees everything from start to finish, including the weighing and marking of the barrels to ensure they haven’t been tampered with, there have been disqualifications in the past. The competition takes place over the course of 2 days with the qualification tests on the Saturday followed by the semi finals and finals on the Sunday.

Alongside the gastronomic festival there is a market of agricultural producers and craftsmen ensuring that everyone has plenty to see, do and enjoy. My congratulations go out to this year’s winners Castelnuovo Calcea. They are now two-time winners having also come first in the 2015 competition. This time next year Vigna Rocchetta will be long complete and I look forward to accompanying our guests to this wonderful weekend of fun. Maybe Castelnuovo Calcea will make it a hat trick in 2019, we will have to wait to find out.

If you wish to join us at Vigna Rocchetta next year to enjoy this event, please do not hesitate to get in touch for more details.

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