Wondering what kind of place my Tuscan village is? The best time to find out is during the Festa dell'Uva, the wine harvest festival, which takes place every year on the first October weekend. Thinking of a wine festival you're probably expecting to find a bunch of people discussing tannins and barrel aging time. Forget it. You'll be seeing this.
I know, my Tuscan village is a weird place. Once a year Tuscan farmers and winery owners forget about harvesting and pretend to live in Rio de Janeiro.
That's not what you wanted to see, when booking your flight to Tuscany? I so understand. It for sure isn't what I want to see on the first Sunday of October - on a day still warm enough to build beach huts along the Tuscan shore.
But you still have to come. Not for the competition between Cinigiano's three paper mash floats, which are parading the village on Sunday afternoon (turning it into a miniature version of Viareggio's carneval). But for the wine. Cinigiano is HQ of Tuscany's Montecucco DOCG wines. Which means that from Friday to Sunday you'll be tasting your way through fine Sangiovese wines and a few Tuscan blends (mainly with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon). And then there is the local food my Tuscan native and his buddies have been preparing lovingly for the last two days. My Tuscan village definitely isn't on a par with Sydney's Mardi Gras - but we've got the rest of the ingredients for a good party.
And no, you won't be obliged to watch the parade on Sunday (lucky you! I will, my kids are part of it...). But you may have to fear the headache of the day after. Cinigiano isn't famous for carnival, but if you plan on drinking through the night with the locals you better muster up some courage.
CINIGIANO, FESTA DELL'UVA 2012, October 5 to 7
The full program of the three day festival can be found on the website of Cinigiano's tourist office.
Ps. My kids won't have to parade around half-naked. The float in the above video was the winner of the 2011 edition. Not because of the net stockings wearing Tuscan, but because of the heartwarming story they told. The winning team put on a real sociocultural blockbuster about the life of a young transsexual who had to deal with the dismay of his Tuscan father and the rest of the village. You thought we're rather old-fashioned in the Tuscan outback? Get real!
That village of mine is starting to grow on you? It's a great and off-the-beaten path place (they do exist in Tuscany!) to visit during the rest of the year. For more info about winery visits and recommended accommodation read on here: Cinigiano and the Montecucco DOCG wines.