Hot air balloons lay back over Italy's wine valley for 'ballooning vacation' video

REUTERS

Hot air balloons from around the world will fill the skies above Umbria for one of the world's biggest ballooning events.

Around 30 hot air balloons took to the skies in Italy as part of what organisers refer to as the "most relaxed" event on the international ballooning calendar.

The colourful balloons lifted off at sunrise and rose above the Sagrantino wine valley in Italy's central Umbria region.

"It's a lovely way of seeing the world," said Robin Mercer, a balloonist from Northern Ireland. "It's not like being in an aeroplane or a helicopter. You can look 360 degrees ... it is something really, really special."

The 10-day event takes in the best food and wine Italy has to offer.
ALESSANDRO BIANCHI/REUTERS

The 10-day event takes in the best food and wine Italy has to offer.

Since late July, enthusiasts from across Europe and beyond have been competing in the third edition of the Sagrantino Italian International Balloon Challenge Cup, an event for which organisers limit the number of participants to keep it laidback and a "ballooning vacation" for those that take part.

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The 10-day event includes a rich programme of events at which participants get to sample local food and wine.

Women tow their hot air balloon during a hot air ballooning event in Todi, Italy.
REUTERS/ALESSANDRO BIANCHI

Women tow their hot air balloon during a hot air ballooning event in Todi, Italy.

"You can go as low as the top of the trees or as high as the clouds and you have no idea where you are going to land," said balloonist Andrew Laing from Scotland. "It's a magical mystery tour."

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A man does one last check of his hot air balloon before he takes to the sky.
REUTERS/ALESSANDRO BIANCHI

A man does one last check of his hot air balloon before he takes to the sky.

 - Reuters

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