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palio dei caci
Photo ©palio dei caci

Palio dei Caci

A cheese battle in a centuries-old Volterra tradition

A cross between a historical re-enactment and an exuberant local event, the Palio dei Caci cheese-rolling competition in Volterra is one of the main events at Volterragusto, known among gourmands near and far for its numerous truffle-centered appointments.

On the next to last Sunday in October, along via Franceschini’s descent, you can watch the wheels of cheese produced in the Balze Volterrane roll their way through the route. You’ll see them tumble along, chased by the “corridori” (runners) of eight city districts who will face off with wooden pallets, skillfully getting around the hay bale obstacles placed in their way, bringing their own cheese wheel to the finish line as fast as possible.

This type of cheese is one of those traditional local products that since medieval times has been among the local population’s preferred foods, due to the fact that much business here revolved around sheep breeding. Considered a valid alternative to meat for its nutritious properties, it also brought about inspiration to create more shared entertainment for the community. Indeed, the old tradition of the “ruzzola” and the “corsa dei caci” goes back centuries, and is what inspired this very palio. The winner of the challenge gets to take home – what else? – the cheese.


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