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Festivals in Tuscany June 5 -11, 2014

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We will be staying near Siena for a week in early June and I've found a couple of festivals scheduled to happen during the week that sound fun. We would for sure like to go to the Castellina wine festival on June 7th. We had a great time in 2012 at a wine festival in Agliano Terme in the Piedmont and are hoping this one will be fun too. The crossbow competition and other festivities at the Giostra dell' Archidado in Cortona on June 8th sound interesting too.

I don't want to spend the whole week rushing from festival to festival but I was wondering if anyone has been to either of these? It's unfortunate they are on consecutive days but if they are as fun as they sound, it might be worth the effort to try to get to both of them. Any recommendations or suggestions???

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    I haven't been to either festival, but the Giostra del Archidado is a carbon copy of scores of similar festivals that take place in nearly every self-respecting town in central Italy, including the one where I live. I've been to many of them, because for several years my husband and I participated in the obligatory "parade in medieval costume" of our town's festival, and we were often invited to other towns to fill out their parades.

    All of these festivals have the parade, they all have a display of flag-throwing, and they all have a band that features mostly drums, because it's the easiest thing to teach to a bunch of adolescents. Most of them also have an archery contest, and sometimes there are some horsemen or falconers. All of them have stands selling food, usually with a local specialty featured, but you could really get a better meal in a local restaurant, and on real plates with real cutlery.

    There is very little to do other than watch the various shows, and eat, of course. I've suggested to our town that they try to spice it up a bit with some audience participation, such as renting out some costumes (peasant skirts, monks' robes, etc., that could be worn over the street clothes) to visitors so they could participate themselves. Or maybe some courses teaching people how to make polenta or vino cotto. Or some contests in which visitors could participate. However, there are never enough volunteers to organize these things, and people are rather set in their ways.

    You should maybe take my opinion with a grain of salt, because I've seen so many of these, and maybe I'm a bit jaded. You might love the festival. If you decide to go, I suggest that you find out the times of the various shows, because these festivals tend to have long "down" periods. The evenings are usually the time when most things are happening, or on weekend afternoons. The same is probably also true of the wine festival.

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    bvlenci - Thanks for your response. It's been 12 years since we were in Cortona and it was very crowded then. I can deal with crowds but I'm wondering how early we would have to get there on Sunday the 8th to find a place to park, get to the square and find a spot to watch some flag-throwing displays before the cross bow competition at 4 PM? My fear is it will be so crowded that we won't be able to get close enough to see anything.

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