Not just wine: Montalcino capital of honey for three days

One of Italy’s best-known wine-growing areas sees the punctual return of the Montalcino Honey Week, a traditional annual event dedicated to the world of beekeeping and products of the hive. The trade fair, which begins today and continues until 8 September, features tastings at the exhibitors’ stands in the town’s thirteenth-century Fortress, tasting workshops, educational mini-courses on beekeeping techniques, a national conference of technical updates for beekeepers and a day devoted to exploring the relationship between honey and wellbeing. And then there’s the eagerly-awaited moment: the prize-giving for the best honey in Italy, chosen among participants of the traditional “Roberto Franci” competition.

Many people may not know this, but Montalcino, famous worldwide for its Brunello wine, also boasts an extraordinary array of food products. From truffles to extra-virgin olive oil, saffron to cheeses, cereals to plums (Banfi, a leading producer of Brunello, supplies approximately 15% by volume of Italy’s plums). And honey, naturally. It was here, in 1976, that the first event was held to celebrate the main product of the beehive (Honey Week, in fact), an initiative sponsored by the Municipality of Montalcino and local beekeepers. At that time this was a new thing, and within a few years it was copied in several Italian regions. Once again Montalcino’s farsightedness led it to be ahead of the trend.