The province of Vercelli in the Piemontee region of Italy is better known for its rice production. This weekend it’s the home of Chocolate Day in the town of Crescentino. From 8:00 AM through 8:00 PM on both Saturday and Sunday, master chocolatiers will display their sweet wares in the Piazza Carretto. You can walk around and sample various chocolates, dip in the chocolate fountain, view the chocolate sculptures on display and smell the roasted chestnuts filling the air. Games for kids, balloons and a visit from Babbo Natale (Father Christmas) round out the day for the kids.
Golden. Crunchy. Warm. Savory. Cicciolo, which are essentially pork cracklins, are the highlight of this festival. The direct translation of Cicciolo d’oro is “greaves of gold”. Greaves are the portion of armor used to protect the shin and calve. At least 400 butchers will gather over 150 pots of boiling oil in Campagnola Emilia this Sunday December 13th to compete for the best cicciolo. Whether you give the cracklins a try or one of the other pork based dishes offered from the street food stands, if you are a fan of pork, you won’t go hungry.
Campagnola Emilia is about 25 kilometers from Reggio Emilia in the Po River Valley. The Emilia Romagna region of Italy is known for its many savory treats, meats, pastas and agricultural products. Campagnola is home to the church of Sant’Andrea, the oldest structure in the village built in the 11th century. The festivities start at 9am on Sunday and run into the night. Be sure not to miss the pork sausage in a continuous ribbon spanning an incredible 250 meters through the village.
Talk about a candy with an identity crisis, there are at least six countries with their own version of this sweet treat. All have the same basic ingredients of honey and egg whites, but depending on where you find it, it can be chewy or hard, nutty or fruity, or taken up a notch and dipped in chocolate. This weekend and next is San Marco dei Cavoti’s Festa Del Torrone e Croccantino.
San Marco dei Cavoti in the Benevento province of Campana, is one of Italy’s top production centers for this traditional Christmas treat. The area was originally settled in pre-Roman times and three of the gates built to fortify the town in the 1300’s still stand. Stands will be open serving varieties of this special treat throughout the festival. There are street performances, cooking demonstrations and if you’re there the night of the 6th you’ll get a special treat with a performance by the U2 tribute band Achtung Babies.