This week’s photo challenge is the theme Together. Well – there are moments in life that you will remember forever – this photo represents one of them. I first set foot in the little Tuscan hilltop village of Montalcino back in 2006, while visiting for an afternoon during a family reunion trip. I soon fell under the spell of this magical village and fortunately have found time to return every year, if only for a short stay. Montalcino has a HUGE archery rivalry which culminates with an October weekend filled with pageantry, processions and a nail-biting archery tournament, the Sagra del Tordo (Feast of the Thrush), on the Sunday afternoon. There are four quartieri (or quarters) that compete against each other. In 2009, after becoming friendly with some of the villagers who belonged to Quartiere Pianello, I was invited to participate in the festivities and cook with the women of the quartiere. I brought along one of my BFFs, Joan. We were invited into their inner sanctum, the headquarters of Pianello to prepare for the Saturday evening feast. All day we laughed with the women as they worked away at the stoves. They cooked together like a fine ballet , obviously having done this many times before. Newcomers to the group (and not yet trusted to even stir the sauce), we were relegated to slathering the crostini with typical Tuscan toppings. So slather we did as we laughed and cooked away the afternoon. The next day, we woke in excitement of the big pageantry and tournament ahead. Pianello had not won for 21 years but there was much hope as the day dawned.
We huddled in the stands watching the archery tournament, not quite understanding the rules. But we listened as the Italians around murmured and dramatically sighed as each arrow either hit or missed its mark – a wild boar shaped target (very cute!). And then – it happened. The winning arrow was fired – and lo and behold, it was Pianello’s arrow!!! We flew down from the stands onto the field as the Pianello tent erupted onto the field. We were swept up with the Pianello crowd and paraded through the main street of the village with everyone counting up from one to twenty-one (uno! due! tre!…..ventuno!) to represent the 21 year period since their last win. The archers then stopped (photo at the top) at the foot of the quartiere who had won the year previous to sing a victory song and rub in the victory just a tad. Off we marched back to Quartiere Pianello for a celebration feast. Food and Brunello quickly appeared and we partied until late in the evening.
For bringing ‘Buona Fortuna’ to Pianello, they gave me a beautiful blue Pianello flag autographed by the archers. It now hangs in my home bringing smiles to my face whenever I pass. Together in my heart indeed.
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