National Lasagna Day: My Favorite Recipe & Where to Find Lasagna Festivals in Italy

In honor of National Lasagna Day in the United States (July 29th)!

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Lasagne Romagnola

Just looking at a picture of lasagna makes my stomach rumble! It ignites my savory cravings and when I eat it, rarely can I stop at just one serving. Made of sheets of pasta layered in a baking dish with different ingredients and sauces, the classic lasagna version hails from Bologna in the Emilia Romagna but the Naples version from Campania is just as famous. The variations are endless!

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Baked Lasagna (Lasagne al Forno)

While traveling throughout Italy, I noticed that lasagne (Lasagna in Italian) is different than what I have experienced in your standard, run-of-the-mill Italian-American family restaurant. It’s probably closer to what you find when invited to the homes of friends and relatives of Italian descent. I prepare lasagna several times a year, typically when I have a large group for dinner at my home. (Friends, I reveal my secret recipe below!)

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Making Spinach Lasagne Pasta

In 2011 my husband and I were dinner guests at the family home of our friend Andrea in Forli, Emilia Romagna. We had been traveling in Italy for several weeks and eaten some fine lasagne in restaurants. We were delighted when Mamma Pasini served up her personal lasagne recipe. In an attempt to determine why what we were tasting was so different than what I had encountered back home, I took the opportunity to ask about the ingredients (with Viviana translating). Mamma Pasini’s recipe differed in four key ways: it was light on tomatoes, had no ricotta, didn’t have as many layers of pasta sheets, and, perhaps most importantly, it was made with bechamel sauce. (Note: southern Italian recipes tend to be heavier on the tomatoes, so if they are a problem for you try a central/northern Italian recipe like the link below, instead).

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Serving up Lasagne

Upon our return to States, I feverishly searched for a recipe I thought resembled what had been discussed in the kitchen back in Forli.  (Que drumroll…)  I zeroed in on one called “Giorgios Tuscan Lasagna” (see link below).  So now my secret is out! The lasagna friends have been enjoying at my home for several years is a fantastic recipe I found online. Whether it’s a group of friends or family, lasagna is always a winner in my book – Happy National Lasagna Day USA!

LASAGNA FESTIVALS

To sample Lasagnas from different regions of Italy, attend one of these festivals dedicated to Lasagna throughout Italy:

May – Oricola, Abruzzo

May – Montenero d’Orica, Tuscany

May/June –  Arci di San Lazzaro, Bologna, Emilia Romagna

June/July – Bosio, Piemonte

August – Mercato San Severino, Salerno, Campania Lasagna & Meatballs Festival!

NOTE: dates/months may change each year – always confirm!

TIP: To find your own, search on “Sagra della Lasagna”

#NationalLasagnaDay #lasagna #lasagne #italyfestivals #italianfood

INFORMATION

Giorgios Tuscan Lasagna by Squirrel_Nut from Austin, TX

ABOUT

Lisa M. Vogele is the author of Food & Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivals, a travel reference guide that “helps you go local” by incorporating festivals into your travel planning. The second book in her Food & Folklore Series on Festivals of Spain will hit the shelves in 2017. You can find out more information about Lisa’s books, travel services, custom itineraries, and small group tours at Lisa’s Travel Guides or lisa@lisastravelguides.com

BROCHURE: Fun with Food & Festivals Tours!

PHOTO CREDITS
Lasagne Romagnola   by Sambawamba via wikimedia commons
Baked Lasagna   WordRidden via Foter.com / CC BY
Serving up Lasagne   by Roger469 via wikimedia commons
Making Spinach Lasagne pasta  manu flickr2010 via Foter.com / CC BY

PALIO – The Famous Horse Race of Siena

Last year I attended the July Palio in Siena. Steeped in tradition and excitement it was an unforgettable experience! This year’s race is tomorrow Sunday, July 2, 2017. Enjoy my experiences from last year and this excerpt from my book Food and Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivals (currently available through my website http://www.lisastravelguides.com, your local bookshop or on Amazon.com). The Palio is the culmination of a series of historical activities over a 4 day period filled with much more pageantry and history-in-the-making than can be covered in a simple blog post. Enjoy! @paliodisiena #palio @EnjoySiena #Tuscany #Siena

horses and fantinos

While many folkloric traditions continue as a draw for both tradition and tourism, the Palio of Siena is by the Senese for the Senese. The Palio is held twice each year, on July 2 and August 16, but on the minds of every resident each day of the year. There are seventeen contrade (districts) and each is a community within a community of extended family with its own leaders, headquarters, flags, colors, museums, churches, patron saints, allies and sworn enemies. The seventeen contrade are named Caterpiller, Conch Shell, Dragon, Elephant, Forest, Giraffe, Noble Goose, Leopard, Owl, Panther, Porcupine, Ram, She Wolf, Snail, Tortoise, Tower, Unicorn and Wave.

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Each contrada fields a fantino (jockey) and a horse for the race. Since space is limited and the course dangerous, only ten horses and fantini run each race. The contrade selected to run will always be the seven that did not race the previous Palio and three additional selected through a lottery. They race to win the Palio, the unique, silken banner created for each race. (Note: contrade is the plural for contrada in Italian)

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One month before each race the lots are drawn for which contrade will race. The week before the race, soil is brought in from the countryside to lay the dirt track over the cobblestones around Piazza del Campo. The main festivities start three days before each Palio when the horses for each contrada are selected; it is not until then that the contrade and fantinos know which horse their jockey will ride. The process looks a lot like bingo and kicks off the next part of the Palio precursor, strategy.

After it is known which horse each fantino will ride, the representatives for the contrada begin negotiating with each other. Horses and their jockeys are guarded by several members of the contrada to avoid foul play and contact with other contrade. Participating contrade will even go as far as paying another contrada to defeat its sworn enemy; some will try to bribe the jockeys. The days that follow include trial runs in the piazza, drummers, and flag bearers practicing and parading in the streets. The night before, hundreds of people sit at tables that seem to stretch on for miles in each contrada for dinner. Everyone is wearing their colors and passionately shouting the fight songs of their contrada.

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On the day of the race, each horse is taken into the church of its respective contrada, sprinkled with holy water and blessed. About mid-afternoon a procession lasting several hours winds its way through the city and into Piazza del Campo. About 60,000 people are in the Campo waiting for the horse race to begin. The starting lineup is selected, they lineup at the starting line and once there are no false starts, they race to the finish whipping each other and their horses in an effort to gain position. The jockeys ride bareback through the dangerous course, which lasts about ninety seconds. It’s the only horserace in the world where the horse wins the race, whether the rider is still on it or not. In the end, everyone celebrates except the team that comes in second, they turn out their lights and become the quietest corner of the city.

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The August race is the most important but no less anxiety-ridden than the July one and just as exciting for anyone lucky enough to attend. Tickets can be hard to come by so plan well in advance or arrive very early to claim a spot inside the interior (where there are no facilities provided). If you arrive in Italy prior to the July Palio, you should also look into attending Calcio Storico Fiorentino in Florence held about eight days prior.

If you are interested in streaming the Palio live, this is a link to Siena TV (cell phone signals appear to be blocked during the events in Piazza del Campo). The race is scheduled to start at 7:20 PM local time (London 6:20 PM, 1:20 PM in New York, 12:20 PM in Chicago, 11:20 AM in Denver & 10:20 AM in Los Angeles). The start time is sometimes delayed due to the heat, the historical processions and the time it takes to line up the horses (quite difficult with no stalls).  Siena TV linkSiena TV link

IN THE KNOW

  • if you are seriously thinking about attending NEXT year in July or August, reserve a room or apartment ASAP if you want to stay within Siena and/or consider a package through an event operator
  • Ask your host about tickets (the inner circle is free, but seats in stands or in the windows of private homes must be reserved)
  • If you decide to watch from the inner circle, get there four hours ahead to stake your claim (about 3 PM)
  • There are no facilities provided at the free inside ring of Piazza del Campo; plan ahead for bathrooms, water and sunscreen since you will be there for several hours

FOUR DAY SCHEDULE OF THE PALIO  Italian*  English

FURTHER READING & VIEWING

Feature Length Documentary: PALIO (2015)

Palio History: PALIO by John Hunt (several books available on the history of the event and the contrade)

Historical Fiction: The Shepherdess of Siena by Linda Lafferty

ABOUT

Lisa M. Vogele is the author of Food & Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivals,  a travel reference guide that “helps you go local” by incorporating festivals into your travel planning. You can find out more information  at Lisa’s Travel Guides

PHOTO CREDITS

Palio Horses & Fantinos: Janus Kinase via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Palio Horses in Action g.sighele via Foter.com / CC BY

Carrabinieri Charging on Horseback g.sighele via Scandinavian / CC BY

All other photos by Lisa M. Vogele

* use google translate, websters.com or another translation assistance site

 

 

Cordoba’s Colorful Battle of the Flowers

IMG_2099[1]The last weekend of April each year, Cordoba rings in the spring by throwing thousands of carnations in a spirited procession known as the Battle of the Flowers. At high noon, a cannon sounds as 20 floats decorated in colorful paper flowers are led by a local band, parading down the Paseo de la Victoria in Cordoba, Spain.

IMG_2110[1]The participants on the floats hurl carnation flower heads at the spectators stacked several deep lining the sides of the wide boulevard. The colorful “Battle” ensues and the spectators return the flowery shots back at the floats. The “Battle” started in 1940 but has been taking place consistently since sometime in the 1980’s.

INFORMATION

Tourism Cordoba Website

ABOUT

Lisa M. Vogele is the author of Food & Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivals, a travel reference guide that “helps you go local” by incorporating festivals into your travel planning. The second book in her Food & Folklore Series on Festivals of Spain will hit the shelves in 2017. You can find out more information about Lisa’s books, custom itineraries and small group tours at Lisa’s Travel Guides.    BROCHURE: Fun with Food & Festivals Tours!

 PHOTO CREDITS: Lisa M. Vogele

 

67th Ladispoli Artichoke Festival

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The Sagra del Carciofo Romanesco in Ladispoli outside of Rome, claims to be the first festival honoring the artichoke in the world.  Ladispoli is just over twenty miles northwest of Rome on the Mediterranean coastline along the ancient Roman road, the Via Aurelia.  Named after Ladislao Odeschalci who founded the city in 1888, Ladispoli a coastal resort town in the Lazio region.  There were settlements in the area since Etruscan times.Started in 1950 to promote artichokes, particularly tourism in Ladispoli, the festival has endured and is held in early April each year over a three day period.

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This festival celebrates the Romanesco variety of artichoke, which is globe-shaped and purplish in color.  Leading up to the event, the restaurants in the area highlight the use of artichokes and offer fixed price menus.  Two popular ways to prepare and eat artichokes are Carciofi alla Romana and Carciofi all GiudiaCarciofi alla Romana are stuffed with mint, garlic and parsley and then cooked slowly in olive oil. Carciofi alla Giudia, a classic Roman Jewish dish, they are flattened and deep fried to a golden crispy finish.

 

The 67th festival runs today thru Sunday. There will be stands for tasting the artichokes as well as musical entertainment and cooking demonstrations.  It’s an easy start or finish to your vacation if you are arriving in Rome via Aeroporto Fiumicino and easily accessible by train from Rome or Pisa.

Carciofi alla Giudia
Carciofi all Giudia
Carciofi alla Romana
Carciofi alla Romana

Ladispoli, Lazio on Google Maps

Sagra del Carciofo Romanesco info Pro Loco Ladispoli

Photo Credits:

Carciofi Romanesco   Stefano Pellicciari via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
Carciofi for Sale   blucolt via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
Fried Artichokes   fugzu via Foter.com / CC BY
Carciofi alla Giudia   SignorDeFazio via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
Carciofi alla Romana   lisa_shen via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

 

 

 

 

 

Go Nuts at the Almond Blossom Feast of Agrigento

5319289953_a7b32f51c6_b (2)Spring has already sprung in Agrigento, Sicily. Originally founded as a Greek colony in 581 BC and called Akragas, Agrigento has been, at various times, ruled by Byzantines, Romans and Arabs. The Greek presence is perhaps most felt at the Valle dei Tempi, home to five temple ruins that draw visitors from around the globe.

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The Sagra del Mandorlo in Fiori celebrates the almonds of the area. Today is the last day of the festival celebrations in 2017. Various restaurants participate in fixed menus that incorporate the use of the almond as the highlighted ingredient. Today at 10:00 AM (the last Sunday of the celebration each year) there is a parade of folk groups, Sicilian carts, and both Andalusian and Friesan horses.158866175_c32dd433b4_o (2)

Eager for more local dancing and entertainment? Not only is this the 72nd Feast of the Almond Blossom, it’s the 62nd International Folklore Festival. This is the last weekend of three.

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Sagra del Mandorlo Official Website

Visit Agrigento Tourism Website

#italyfestivals #sagradelmandorlo #agrigento #sicily

Photo Credits:
Temple of Concordia:  archer10 (Dennis) (67M Views) via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
Sicilian Horse Cart on Parade:   cL4uDj via Foter.com / CC BY
Piazza Municipio at Night, Agrigento:   cL4uDj via Foter.com / CC BY
Almond Blossoms:   beamillion via Foter.com / CC BY

 

 

 

Nero Norcia 2017: Umbrian Black Truffles

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View of Norcia, Umbria

The Umbrian town of Norcia sits at the foot of the Monte Sibillini in the Valnerina River Valley. It’s about 45 minutes east of the famous music festival town Spoleto and near the Umbrian border with the Lazio and Le Marche regions. An ancient settlement, Norcia has found traces of human occupation from the Neolithic Age (approximately 10,000 BC – 2,000 BC). It’s a great base for hiking mountains and walking through the beautiful natural scenery of the Santa Scolastica plain.

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Piazza San Benedetto in Norcia;   Left: Palazzo Communale;   Right Church of San Benedetto

The shade of trees in the forests nearby harbor these fragrant and expensive mushrooms. Used raw or cooked they are often tossed with rice or pasta. Norcia’s foodie highlights are more than just it’s truffle production; the famous Norcinos (butchers) and their salumerie shops are not to be missed for further tastebud exploration.

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Nearby Castellucio di Norcia

#neronorcia #eventiumbria #umbria #italyfestivals #norcia

INFORMATION

2017 Nero Norcia Information

Umbria Tourism

@umbriatourism

Umbria Tourism on Facebook

ABOUT

Lisa M. Vogele is the author of Food & Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivals, a travel reference guide that “helps you go local” by incorporating festivals into your travel planning. The second book in her Food & Folklore Series on Festivals of Spain will hit the shelves in 2017. You can find out more information about Lisa’s books, custom itineraries and small group tours at Lisa’s Travel Guides.    BROCHURE: Fun with Food & Festivals Tours!

 PHOTO CREDITS:
VIEW OF NORCIA FROM FIELD:   LAVALNERINA.IT VIA FOTER.COM / CC BY
BLACK TRUFFLE:   MOEDERMENS VIA FOTER.COM / CC BY
EGG WITH SHAVED TRUFFLE:   NOCIVEGLIA VIA FOTER.COM / CC BY
TAGLIATELLE AL TARTUFO NERO:   UMBRIALOVERS VIA FOTER.COM / CC BY-SA
PIAZZA SAN BENEDETTO:   STEVECADMAN VIA FOTER.COM / CC BY-SA
CASTELLUCIO DI NORCIA:   PHOTO CREDIT: MOYAN_BRENN VIA FOTER.COM / CC BY

The Great Italian Food Fight

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Battle Aftermath

Oranges are the ammunition of this battle royale in the northern Italian town of Ivrea. Referred to as the “largest food fight” in Italy, the Battle of the Oranges engages over 5,000 participants inflicting pain by hurling 60 tons of blood oranges at each other. Ivrea, north of Turin and west of Milan, imports an entire train full of oranges from Sicily each year for the event.

The Battle is based on stories of real people from the rebellion 900 years ago. At this period in time, the “right of the first night” or jus primae noctae allowed the local Lord to sleep with a bride the night before her wedding. As the story goes, the mugnaia (miller’s daughter), went to the castle the night before her wedding, wielded a knife, murdered the Lord and cut his head off. The locals then started a three-day rebellion which is represented by the throwing of the oranges.

398726005_a7c96d4e35_bActivities for this Carnival period celebration started in January and culminate today and tomorrow with historical parades, feasts and of course, the famous orange fight this afternoon. Aranceri (orange handlers) on fifty carts battle the aranceri from the nine pedestrian teams. Spectators are strongly advised to purchase and wear at all times the beretto frigio; this red stocking cap identifies the innocent onlookers hoping to escape errant oranges. Nets are strung throughout the parade route with designated areas for spectators to gather beneath for protection. The orange throwing spectacle can be seen on Sunday (last night) and Monday nights (today) before dinner, refer to the full program schedule below for parade map and times.

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Castello di Ivrea

Historical Carnival of Ivrea – Information

Photo Credits:

BATTLE AFTERMATH – SEBASTIANO ROSSI VIA FOTER.COM / CC BY-ND
ORANGE THROWERS (LEFT) – SEBASTIANO ROSSI VIA FOTER.COM / CC BY-ND
ORANGE THROWERS (RIGHT) – PIGLIAPOST VIA FOTER.COM / CC BY-SA
SBANDIERATORI (FLAG THROWERS)- GIÒ-S.P.O.T.S. VIA FOTER.COM / CC BY
CASTELLO DI IVREA – GALLI LUCA VIA FOTER.COM / CC BY

 

It’s Gnocchi Friday (& More) in Verona!

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Carnevale Parade in Verona

If you are looking for an alternative to the carnevale crowds in Viareggio and Venice, Verona may hold the ticket. Gnocchi Friday in Verona is kind of like Fat Tuesday in New Orleans. It’s the first of FIVE days of celebration as the fun carnevale period ends and the Christian abstinence period of Lent begins. Verona is a city in the northern Italian province of Veneto, often thought of when Romeo and Juliet are mentioned.

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Il Papa del Gnoco

GNOCCHI FRIDAY  “Venerdi Gnoccolare” Starting around noon on Friday floats start to gather for their journey through downtown, starting around 2pm. Led by “Il Papa Gnocco” (the Father of Gnocchi), 70 floats participate along with bands and entertainers in front of 100,000+ strong crowd. The 6 km parade ends at Piazza Bra, but head over to Piazza Zeno where the real fun begins in my opinion (FOOD!). Gnocchi is made by mixing potatoes and flour, cutting into small squares and then boiling in water. It can be served with a variety of toppings; the Veronese eat it with a meat ragu and even have their own word for the after-effect of eating too much, GNOCCOLONITA!

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Arena di Verona

The best of the rest:

HISTORICAL REGATTA (SATURDAY)  “Regata Storica Sull’Adige”  Since the fifteenth century, Prince Reboano arrives by canoe on Saturday afternoon and leads a masked carnival procession through the Filippini district and ending in Piazza Bra.

CARNIVAL ON LISTON (SUNDAY)  “Carnevale sul Liston”  A Carnival party begins in Piazza bra late in the morning and moves through the other districts of the City in the afternoon.

FEAST OF SANTO STEFANO (MONDAY)  “Luni Pignatar”  Traditional soup and plenty of music are on tap Monday afternoon in the Santo Stefano District of Verona.

FAT TUESDAY  “Martedi Grasso”  An afternoon party in the Porto San Pancrazio district on Shrove Tuesday begins at 2:30 pm and carries into the night.

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Gnocchi with Ragu

INFORMATION

Carnevale Verona Official Website (Italian)

Verona on Google Maps

ABOUT

Lisa M. Vogele is the author of Food & Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivals, a travel reference guide that “helps you go local” by incorporating festivals into your travel planning. The second book in her Food & Folklore Series on Festivals of Spain will hit the shelves in 2017. You can find out more information about Lisa’s books, custom itineraries and small group tours at Lisa’s Travel Guides.    BROCHURE: Fun with Food & Festivals Tours!

PHOTO CREDITS

Arena di Verona   rick ligthelm via Foter.com / CC BY

Gnocchi with Ragu    I am Jeffrey via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

All other photos from Carnevale Verona Official Committee

 

connect. experience. savor. Lisa’s Travel Guides 2017 Tours

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SIX DAYS & NIGHTS OF FUN WITH FOOD & FESTIVALS!

Sign up for one of our scheduled tours or inquire about a custom/private one! The Brochure for our 2017 tours based on the book FOOD & FOLKLORE: A Year of Italian Festivals is now available!

2017 BROCHURE:   2017-lisas-travel-guides-tour-brochure

WELCOME to Lisa’s Travel Guides. Our guided travel experiences are designed to help you “go local” at a moderate pace and savor the moment. They are personally curated to create special memories in a small group setting:

  • experience local festivals
  • connect with locals
  • explore the countryside & hilltowns
  • drive past vineyards and sip the wine they produce
  • taste locally cultivated olive oil
  • learn how history shaped the region
  • stay in historic homes on working estates
  • meet artisan cheesemakers and sample their products
  • visit the family workshop of local leather artisans
  • tour with professional licensed, multi-lingual guides

See our brochure for further details www.lisastravelguides.com

Lisa Vogele, Chief Travel Addict, lisa@lisastravelguides.com or 970-987-4096

 

 

EVENTS: A Year of Italian Festivals – FEB 15 in Boulder & FEB 16 in Edwards, CO

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 @ 7:00 – 8:00 PM – Changes in Latitude Travel Store – 2525 Arapahoe Ave. Boulder, CO – 303-786-8406

Thursday February 16, 2017 @ 6:00 – 7:00 PM  – The Bookworm of Edwards
295 Main Street C101, Edwards, CO – 970-926-7323

Have you ever just arrived in Italy and missed out on a cool local food festival or historical reenactment? Colorado author Lisa Vogele will introduce you to a diverse collection of food & folklore festivals highlighting various regions. This presentation will interest foodies, history buffs, Italophiles and offer tips for incorporating festivals into your travel planning.

The presenter, Lisa Vogele is an Italophile, festival-lover, and travel-addict. Her blog “Lisa Loves to Travel” has been created to share her love of festivals with fellow travelers and enthusiasts. She loves hearing suggestions, recommendations, and experiences around festival travel. The “Food & Folklore” series is published by Lisa’s Travel Guides and highlights food, fun, and festivals to help others go local as a traveler, not a tourist. Author book signing to follow.

http://www.lisastravelguides.com. 

Feb 15 2017 Changes in Latitude – Boulder, CO Link

Feb 16 2017 Bookworm of Edwards – Edwards, CO Event Link