World Pasta Day: Italian Pasta Festivals & a Craft Pasta Excursion

“Everything you see, I owe to pasta.” – Sophia Loren

Pappardelle with Wild Boar Sauce at da Mario by Lisa Vogele
Pappardelle al Cinghiale (Wild Boar Sauce) Prepared by Chef Christian at Ristorante da Mario in Buonconvento, Tuscany

Pasta. Pasta. Pasta. October 25th is World Pasta Day! There are over 300 types to choose from. You can get it in short lengths or long, baked or boiled, slathered in a multitude of sauces. Each region of Italy has their favorite pasta shapes, sizes, and toppings. A savory ragu in Emilia-Romagna, basil pesto in Liguria, spicy peperoncino in Calabria or a cheesy lasagna oven baked in Campania (prepared al Forno); the variations are endless.

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Lasagna Romagnola

Pasta can be mass-produced or made by hand (Fatto a mano). After more than 10 trips to Italy, I am quite picky about the pasta I eat here in the United States. Purchasing options range from large-scale factories like Barilla on your grocery store shelf to craft pasta makers like the Martelli family of Lari, Tuscany. A fun trip for all ages is an excursion to the Martelli family’s craft pasta facility. It takes more than 50 hours to dry their pasta before it’s ready to be packaged and distributed. According to Lonely Planet, the mass-producer Barilla can make as much pasta in 20 minutes as the Martelli Family makes in one year.  Mangia!

October 27th is World Pasta Day & October 17th is USA National Pasta Day

…in case you were wondering

PASTA FACTORY VISIT

La Pasta dei Martelli in Lari, Tuscany – see website for more information or contact me to arrange your transportation & visit

ITALIAN PASTA FESTIVALS

Here is a list of festivals throughout the year in Italy form my book Food & Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivals

May – Tuscany – Sagra della Pastasciutta in Siena [20 different varieties of pasta; a pasta lovers dream]

June – Lazio – Sagra del Gnocchi in Riofreddo [Gnocchi]

June – Piemonte – Sagra della Foccaccia al Formaggio e delle Trofie al Pesto in Casal Cermelli [Trofie shaped pasta with pesto and cheese foccaccia]

July/August – Campania – Sagra dei Fusilli e del Pecorino in Ceppaloni [Fusilli shaped pasta & pecorino cheese]

August – Tuscany – Sagra del Raviolo in Contignano [Ravioli]

August – Marche –  La Sagra dei Maccheroncini in Campfilone [Spaghetti]

October – Emilia-Romagna – Sagra del Tortellino in Reno Centese [Tortellini]

Tip to search on your own: Search formula = “sagra” + “pasta” + region of Italy or the shape, sauce or preparation of your favorite pasta

GLUTEN-FREE?

Restaurants throughout the world have increased their offerings for friends that are gluten-sensitive or gluten-free for sourcing a pasta fix (look for “senza glutine” on an Italian menu). Check out Jodi Ettenberg’s Legal Nomad blog post: The Essential Gluten Free Guide to Italy  providing very helpful information & list of additional resources for planning a gluten-free trip to Italy.

ABOUT

Lisa Vogele is passionate about sharing her love of travel, festivals and genealogy with fellow travelers and enthusiasts. Lisa is the author of Food & Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivals, her first installment in a series of travel reference guides about food and folklore festivals in various countries. Lisa’s Travel Guides is a full-service travel, tour and custom travel agency helping others to go local as a traveler and not a tourist. In 2017, Lisa combined her passions and created Travel Your Tree providing research services and travel planning for ancestral destination adventures. Lisa can be reached at lisa@lisastravelguides.com  or follow her: Twitter @travelwithlisa; Instagram LisasTravelGuides and travel blogging at Lisa Loves to Travel.

PHOTO CREDITS

Pappardelle al Cinghiale, Lisa Vogele

Lasagne Romagnola, BY SAMBAWAMBA VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

 

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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

Savory Salame & Gnocco Fritto Fantasy

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Gnocco Fritto with Salame and Lard Appetizers

Gnoccho, Salame e Fantasia” is a savory food feast dedicated to the gastronomic delight of salame on gnocco fritto (batter fried into a cracker). Rubiera hosts this food event as part of their December-long calendar of holiday events. When you see the word Gnocco your mind may travel immediately to gnocchi, the potato filled pasta. However, what we are talking about here is Gnocco Fritto, a crispy, fried dough in the shape of a cracker or pillow served as an appetizer with meats or lard. It has different names with slight recipe variations throughout the region: Gnoccho Fritto in Rubiera, Pinzino in Ferrara, and Chisolino near Piacenza. Flour, bacon fat or oil, milk, water, yeast and salt are mixed together to form a dough that rises over time. It is then rolled into a sheet, cut into triangles and rectangles and boiled in lard. The results are small pillows or crispy, cake-like crackers.

 

Rubiera is a town set in the countryside of the Emilia province of Emilia-Romagna with beautiful, portico-lined streets. Its original name was Corte de Herberia translated as “in the middle of the plain” in Celtic. Located along the ancient Via Emilia, it is about 30 miles northwest of the University city of Bologna. The Via Emilia is an ancient Roman trade route running from Piacenza to Rimini on the Adriatic Coast, where in ancient times, it connected to the Via Flaminia route to Rome.

Rubiera can easily be reached by car off of the A1 motorway that runs between Parma and Bologna off the Modena Nord exit. Consider visiting some nearby balsamic vinegar producers or visiting the Ferrari Museum in Maranello.

LINKS

Gnoccho, Salame e Fantasia Event Link

Rubiera, Reggio Emilia, Emilia Romagna Region on the map

Emilia Romagna Tourism site

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 about Lisa’s books and “Fun with Food & Festivals” Tours at Lisa’s Travel Guides.

PHOTO CREDITS

Gnocco Fritto with Salame and Lard Appetizers   artnbarb via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Rubiera Porticos   Turismo Emilia Romagna via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Rubiera Street  Turismo Emilia Romagna via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Gnocco Fritto, Salame & Wine   thepinkpeppercorn via Foter.com / CC BY

Gnocco Fritto, Salame & Olive Oil   hotelrealfini via Foter.com / CC BY-ND

Forte di Rubiera   By I Sailko via Wikimedia Commons

Piazza Padella, Rubiera   I Sailko via Wikimedia Commons

 #Rubiera #TurismoEmiliaRomagna @ComuneRubiera @turismoER

 

Il Baccanale of Imola in the Emilia-Romagna

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Leonardo DaVinci’s Map of Imola Created for Cesare Borgia

Imola should be on your itinerary if you want an “off the beaten tourist track” location in the Emilia-Romagna region with good food and historical sites. Il Baccanal of Imola is a series of events within an event held throughout the month of November. Its name pays homage to Bacchus, the Roman name for the Greek god Dionysus for the grape harvest and wine. Each year there is a theme that runs through the exhibitions, wine tastings, olive oil tastings, cooking school, restaurant specials, and entertainment. This year the theme is “chicchi, grani e farine” (beans, grains, and flour). There is some type of eating, market or activity offered most days in November. This weekend the local olive oil is the focus; open from 9am – 7pm there is a local olive oil market with olive oil tastings and products.

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Rocca Sforzesca – Sforza Castle

Unless you are a Formula One or motorcycle racing fan, you may not have heard of Imola. Like many locations in Italy, Imola sits on the remains of an old Roman town. The duomo of Imola was originally erected in the 12th century and endured various renovations. It’s current facade dates to the 1850’s and inside it has a 16th-century baptismal font and 15th-century wooden crucifix above the altar. The Rocca Sforzesca (Sforza Castle) sits right in town and dates back to 1261. It is a very fine example of medieval and renaissance fortification-type architecture. in 1480 it was expanded by Girolamo Diario and his wife, the famous Caterina Sforza. In addition to walking through the castle itself, visitors can view the ceramics and weapons museums housed here.

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Duomo di Imola – Basilica Cattedrale di San Cassiano Martire

Of course, if you ARE a Formula One racing fan, a visit to the Enzo & Dino Ferrari Autodrome is a must; in fact, for all car enthusiasts, it’s possible to take a few laps around the track in a Ferrari for 800+ Euro or attend the Lamborghini Academy on site. Whether its food, castles or cars that interest you, you can’t go wrong with Imola.

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On the Track at Imola: The Autodromo Enzo & Dino Ferrari

 

INFORMATION

Bacchanal Imola Event Website

Visiting Imola Website

Museum Rocca Sforzesca

Motorsport Maranello at Imola Autodrome

Lamborghini Experience

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 about Lisa’s books and “Fun with Food & Festivals” Tours at Lisa’s Travel Guides.

PHOTO CREDITS

LEONARDO DA VINCI’S MAP OF IMOLA   Leonardo DaVinci via Wikimedia Commons
ROCCA SFORZESCA   Marc G.C. via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
DUOMO di IMOLA   GiovaneScuola2006 via Wikimedia Commons
ON THE TRACK AT IMOLA  FabioCasadei via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

@visitareimola @ERtourism @RegioneER

 

November Festivals of Brisighella

brisighella_ra_pano_2Brisighella is a beautiful town situated on a hillside about one hour southeast of Bologna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. It hosts many wonderful food and folklore festivals throughout the year and in November there are four food festivals, one every Sunday to enjoy. These celebrations are collectively referred to as Quattro Sagre per Tre Colle (Four Feasts for Three Hills) referencing the hills that are part of the Brisighella landscape.

4817960056_646ea7e5a8_b-2NOVEMBER 6 – SAGRA del PORCELLO – Festival of Pork Products

The market opens at 8:00 AM displaying a variety of products made with pork. Later int the morning, from 11:00 AM and until 8:00 PM, food stands serve up pork prepared in the local traditions of the Faenza Apennines (mountains). In Piazza Carducci, expert butchers will give two demonstrations (at 10:00 AM & 3:00 PM) on how to work with/butcher pork. There will be folk performers and games throughout the town during the day. Nine different restaurants are participating in the festivals via menus highlighting pork products.

pera-volpina2NOVEMBER 13 – SAGRA della PERA VOLPINA e del FORMAGGIO STAGIONATO – Festival of Volpina Pears and Seasoned Cheese

This autumn fruit market highlights pears and cheese. Volpina pears are smaller, rounder and harder than the pears we are used to buying at our local supermarkets. They are boiled, cooked in wine, or baked before being eaten. Formaggio Stagionato is a hard, aged pecorino (sheep’s milk) cheese that is often enjoyed in combination with the pears.

11433752756_2b124dab53_b (2).jpgNOVEMBER 20 – SAGRA del TARTUFO – Festival of the Truffle

Sua Maestà il Tartufo (His Majesty the Truffle) of both the black (nero) and white (bianco) varieties are showcased on Sunday, November 20th. Dishes are served up at both food stands and restaurants all around town with truffles as the highlight.

olive-oilNOVEMBER 27 – SAGRA dell’ULIVO e dell’OLIO – Festival of Olive and Oil

There are two types of extra virgin olive oil manufactured in the Brisighella area: “Il Brisighello” and “La Brisighella“. The Brisighella product (ending in “A”) is a PDO Product (Protected Designation of Origin). PDO product designations guarantee the product was made in a certain geographic location and not falsely reproduced somewhere else. There are currently 138 DPO products from throughout Italy protected by this designation.

INFORMATION

Brisighella Map

Brisighella Information

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 about Lisa’s books and “Fun with Food & Festivals” Tours at Lisa’s Travel Guides.

PHOTO CREDITS

Panorama of Brisighella   By Revol Web from Bologna, Italia (Brisighella (RA) Pano) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Pork Products Display   Any.colour.you.like via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
Volpina Pears   Brisighella Ospitale
White & Black Truffles   Michela Simoncini via Foter.com / CC BY
Olive Oil with Olive Branch   USDAgov via Foter.com / CC BY
Brisighella Castello Summer   Revolweb via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
Brisighella Food Stands   Brisighella Ospitale
Brisighella Castello Winter   gminguzzi via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

#Brisighella @BrisighellaBlog

 

Four Fun Ferragosto Weekend Festivals

August 15th is the mid-August national holiday in Italy known as “Ferragosto.” Usually the start of a vacation, or at the very least, a long weekend for Italians, there are celebrations and feasts coinciding with this weekend throughout Italy. Many shops and restaurants shut down this time of year and tourists that have not done their research find a bit of a “ghost town” feel to both small towns and big cities. A tried and true food or folklore festival is a great way to enjoy the locals and eat some great food. Below is a list of some food & folklore events this holiday weekend ranging from small to large in different regions of the country.

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Pappardelle al Cinghiale

SAGRA della PAPPARDELLA al CINGHIALE – Gemmano, Emilia Romagna – August 12-15

Just looking at this photo makes my tastebuds water for this food! Savory and filling, pappardelle pasta with wild boar sauce is the the honored food at this festival in Gemmano, south of Rimini and inland from the Adriatic coast of the Emilia Romagna region. The Onferno caves and nature reserve nearby attract spelunkers and hikers for trekking.

Proloco Gemmano Event Information

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Festa dei Candelieri

FESTA dei CANDELIERI – Sassari, Sardinia – August 14

The Festa dei Candelieri was imported to Sardinia by settlers from Pisa. It is over 500 years old and takes place on August 14th of each year. Music and drums can be heard in the streets in the days leading up to the festival. There are giant candles weighing over 800 pounds each from the ten trade guilds and offered to the Madonna in memory of her ending the plague in the city in 1652. The parade ceremony starts at 5 PM and the candles begin to dance through the town at 6 PM. They are transported by the guild members dancing them in the street beginning at Piazza Castello and ending at the Church of Santa Maria di Betlem.

Festa dei Candelieri Information

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FERRAGOSTO SANTANGIOLESE – Sant’Angelo, Molise – August 14-15

Games, entertainment and, of course, FOOD highlight each day of this event.  Grilled meat on day one, Polenta in the Sant’Angelo style on day 2 and servings of the typical Sant’Angelo dish “sagne, fasciul e cotiche” (pasta with beans and pork).

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Palio Horses and Fantinos (Jockeys)

THE PALIO OF SIENA – Siena, Tuscany – August 16

One of the most famous horse races in the world and the ONLY one where the horse can win riderless, the Palio of Siena doesn’t need an introduction. The Palio in Siena occurs twice a year, every July 2nd and August 16th in the Campo. The four days leading up to each palio are filled with horse selection, time trials and excitement in the contrade (neighborhoods). I attended the July Palio this year and was not disappointed with the days prior or the event itself. For further information on this race, including the video of my live facebook broadcast, check out my blog post Palio – The Famous Horse Race of Siena.

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

Papparedelle al Cinghiale roland via Foter.com / CC BY

Festa dei Candelieri Gianni Careddu on wikimedia commons

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

 

 

A Magic Night of Clams!

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Spaghetti alle Vongole

Seafood festivals bring summer to life. The sand, the sea, the sunburn… The last Saturday in July the town of Cattolica struts their seafood stuff with their “Magic Night of Clams” festival. As an ardent spaghetti alle vongole eater, this festival caught my attention and made me hungry! Clams are served “a thousand ways” at the Port of Cattolica from about 8:30 PM – 10:30 PM accompanied by local wines and a display of the “longest fountain of the world”(a nighttime lights and water display by the local fishing boats).

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Clamming in the Sea

Cattolica is located along the Italian Adriatic coast on the southern tip of the Emilia Romagna region south of Rimini. On an original pilgrim route to Rome, fishing became a major industry in the late 1800’s and tourists have been drawn to it’s shores and beaches since the mid-1900s.

MORE INFORMATION

La Notte Magica delle Vongole

Google Maps Cattolica, Rimini, Emilia Romagna

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

Spaghetti alle Vongole   Richard, enjoy my life! via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Clamming in the Sea   Mario Fornasari via Foter.com / CC BY

Beaches of Cattolica, Italy   (left) schatz via Foter.com / CC BY-SA and (right) miguel.discart via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Cicciolo d’Oro in Reggio Emilia

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Ciccioli and Red Wine
Photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/82842528@N00/3040323149/”>whatamisearching</a&gt; via <a href=”http://foter.com/”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>CC BY</a>

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.

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The Hills of the Reggio Emilia Province
Photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/stradeperdute/11642000495/”>stefano peppucci</a> via <a href=”http://foter.com/”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>CC BY-ND</a>

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.

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Preparing to Cook the Pork Fat
Photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/maong/3491576478/”>Monica Arellano-Ongpin</a> via <a href=”http://foter.com/”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>CC BY</a>

 

Il Cicciolo d’Oro Festival Information