Batailles de reines
Batailles de Reines: the players on the field are cows from the Aosta Valley
It takes place on a Sunday in October. As you enter the "Croix-Noire" arena in Aosta, the sight is spectacular and striking. Vast crowds of people are massed on the terraces in keen and agonising expectation to witness the event.
The reason behind such enthusiasm is the grand final of the Bataille de Reines, a show that has been a lively part of Sundays in Valle d'Aosta for more than half a century.
The display plays on the aggressive instinct, inherent in certain Alpine breeds, like the Valle d'Aosta black and white, and brown and white and the Hérens of Valais, which take part in breath-taking battles to determine the hierarchy within the herd. Over the years, the Bataille has become not only a time for challenges but also a great festival, which is passed down through the generations. It is a show that attracts thousands of spectators every year and has become one of the most important events in Valle d’Aosta.
Every Sunday, from the end of March onwards, with a brief pause in June and July, when the herds are moved to mountain pastures, the "Queens" of the Valley confront each other in the various arenas throughout the Region. Even in these qualifying rounds participation is assured, there is no lack of competition and no danger for animals. On average, 150 cows take part in the contest every year, divided into three categories. The first four places in each category qualify for the regional grand final, where the Queen is chosen.
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The first edition of this unusual “bataille” was held in 1981, the year when some young breeders, true goat lovers, an animal which is actually quite combative, decided after their autumn descen…