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
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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

 

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

 

Honey in the Italian Mountains

While other towns and regions are busy with their fall chestnut, apple, and truffle festivals, the community of Chatillon in the Val d’ Aosta Region of Italy is celebrating honey in all its sticky sweetness. Stands featuring local honey, honey products, and a honey competition highlight the event. The festival began on Thursday and runs through Sunday, October 29th. Tonight features a Castle of Honey tour in the Castello Gamba with food & wine tastings and a fundraiser for Italian earthquake victims. Tomorrow at 11:00 AM you can enjoy a local parade and at 2:00 PM enjoy a walking tour that combines town history and local honey.

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Castello di Ussel, Chatillon, Val d’Aosta, Italy

Chatillon is a town located just east of Aosta in the Val d’Aosta province, near the Italian border with Switzerland and the famous Matterhorn peak. The Castello di Ussel was built in 1350 and dominates the skyline. Once you’ve enjoyed your fill of honey, head over to the nearby spa town of Saint-Vincent for some rest and relaxation.

church-view-chatillon

INFORMATION

Honey Festival Info at Official Val d’Aosta Tourism Site

Comune di Chatillon

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

Castello di Ussel in Chatillon   Jelle Drok via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Church View Chatillon   Sergio & Gabriella via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Shades of Honey   http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Dripping Honey   https://www.flickr.com/photos/hillarystein/2751693052/

#explorevalledaosta #valledaosta #chatillon #italia #italy

@AostaValley @ValledAosta @Italia

The Chestnut Train to Marradi

 

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Arriving in Marradi

Marradi is a small village of 3,500 located 28 miles northeast of Florence and quite near the Tuscan border with the Emilia-Romagna region. Several trains will transport you to the Sagra delle Castagne (Chestnut Festival) in Marradi over four Sundays in October. Trenitalia runs additional trains from Florence (Firenze) on these Sundays and a special, historic steam locomotive runs (treni a vapori) from select cities on different Sundays.

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Chestnut Festival in Marradi

The festival has activities spread throughout the town in seven different locations. There are stands selling different types of delicious pasta, food, cakes and jams made with chestnuts and chestnut products.  This year, the post office has commissioned a special cancellation stamp for everything mailed from Marradi during the festival period. So if you decide to give this festival a try, bring your postcards to mail for an extra special touch.

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Roasting Chestnuts

Free from the tourist crush of nearby Florence, the Mugello region is north of Florence and was first settled by a Ligurian tribe named Magelli, hence the name Mugello.  The countryside is a lush valley of rolling hills and home to many Villas, including Villa Demidoff in Vaglia, Palazzo dei Vicari in Scarperia and the two historic Medici Villas: Villa Medicea di Cafaggiolo in Barberino di Mugello and Villa Medicea del Trebbio near San Piero a Sieve.

INFORMATION

Marradi Pro Loco Event Information

Strada del Marrone

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

Roasting Chestnuts  Adolfo Monti via Foter.com / CC BY

Arriving in Marradi   Antonio Martinetti via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
Chestnut Festival in Marradi   NeeextVJ via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
Chestnuts in Boxes   Zebra48bo via Wikimedia Commons
Chestnut Products   Zebra48bo via Wikimedia Commons
@visitmugello

The Feast of the Bean

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Harvested Fagioli (Beans)

Each August in Sarconi you will find two days filled with food, folklore, and street artists. Sarconi is in the Val d’Agri is a lush area of Basilicata with mountains, lakes, and rivers in the province of Potenza. You can obtain a map from the festival website showing the participating restaurants and stands throughout the town. Nearby places to visit include Moliterno Castle, Mount Sirino and Pietra del Petrusillo Lake.

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Pasta e Fagioli con Salsicce (Pasta and Beans with Sausage)

The beans of Sarconi are an IGP product. The acronym IGP means Identificazione Geografica Protetta; it is a designation given by the European Union when the quality and process of a product are dependent on the location of its production. There are bean products available for purchase at road-side stands, local restaurants highlight the beans on their menus, and educational programs are offered related to the importance of the beans in the area of Val d’Agri.

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Fagioli (Beans)

Festival of beans

Sarconi IDP beans

Basilicata Region 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 at Lisa’s Travel Guides.

PHOTO CREDITS

Harvested Fagioli (Beans)    Nociveglia via Foter.com / CC BY

Pasta e Fagioli con Salsicce   christine592 via Foter.com / CC BY-ND

Fagioli   nociveglia via Foter.com / CC BY

August Festivals in Ascoli Piceno

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Piazza del Popolo, Ascoli Piceno, Le Marche, Italy

August is full of food and folklore festival opportunities throughout Italy. In Le Marche region of Italy, Ascoli Piceno is home to two festivals highlighted in today’s blog: Quintana di Ascoli Piceno and Ascoliva. Ascoli Piceno is surrounded on three sides by mountains and sits on a landscape where two rivers meet at the southernmost part of the region. The town’s historical center is built of travertine marble from the nearby mountains.

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Mountains over Ascoli Piceno

QUINTANA di ASCOLI PICENO – Medieval Tournament & Fun – August 7, 2016

The Quintana di Ascoli Piceno includes two Quintanas (tournaments) taking place on the 9th of July and concluding tomorrow on August 7th with various other medieval-related events in between. Tomorrow’s final event is preceded by the Saint Emidio historical parade beginning at 2:30 PM with over 1,500 costumed participants from the town’s six districts. The Quintana follows at 3:30 PM when the districts will compete for the coveted palio (victory banner). A knight from each district tries to hit and destroy an effigy of an enemy warrior using a jousting lance.

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Flagthrowers in Piazza Arringo, Ascoli Piceno

ASCOLIVA – Stuffed Ascolana Olives Festival – August 10-21, 2016

Ascoli Piceno is the self-proclaimed “world capital of olives.” Over twelve days of tastings and workshops in and around Piazza Arringo you can satisfy your olive cravings and sample 16 other dishes typical of Ascoli Piceno and the region. Olive all’Ascolana are the highlight of this food festival; they are stuffed, large olives that are breaded and deep fried.

 

#destinazionemarche   #QuintanaDiAscoli2016

MORE INFORMATION

Ascoliva – Stuffed Olives Festival

Quintana di Ascoli Piceno – Jousting/Medieval Festival

MAP: Ascoli Piceno, Le Marche, Italy

Le Marche Tourism Website

FOLLOW ON TWITTER

@MarcheTourism @iLoveMarche @Marche_Notizie @MarcheTourismN

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

Piazza del Popolo, Ascoli Piceno   modbob via Foter.com / CC BY-ND

Mountains over Ascoli Piceno   Giorgio Tomassetti via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Flagthrowers in Piazza Arringo, Ascoli Piceno   Pietro Valocchi via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Fresh Ascolana Olives   Toprural via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Curing Ascolana Olives   eekim via Foter.com / CC BY

Olive all’Ascolana   Roxelo Babenco via Foter.com / CC BY-ND

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

These aren’t your father’s anchovies!

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Fried Seafood in a Cone from Take Away Friggatoria il Pescato Cucinato in Riomaggiore

Every third Saturday in June is the Sagra dell’Acciuga Fritta in Monterosso al Mare, Liguria. Yesterday was the scheduled event, however due to bad weather and lack of fish, it was postponed. Bad news for locals and travelers who were hoping to attend, but mother nature could be working in my favor since I will be there next weekend and I am hoping to “catch it.”13307192_653649474786560_6643499018188605037_n

If you’ve grown up in the United States, like I have, your idea of anchovies is a bunch of salty, smelly fish packed in oil and stored for god knows how long. They come on top of your pizza or caesar salad and that’s about the only time you see them. On the Ligurian coast of Tuscany, anchovies are a whole lot different. I discovered this last year when I participated in the Mangialonga Levanto with friends Ann & Robin. Anchovies were one of the menu items and it was the food I thought I would like the least, but much to my surprise, enjoyed the most! They are served a variety of different ways but the local friggatorie shops make enjoying them a quick and easy meal mixed with other seafood and french fries.

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Take Away Il Pescato Cucinato in Riomaggiore

Monterosso al Mare is part of the chain of five, seaside villages known as the “Cinque Terre.” Located in the Italian province of Liguria, the population of the Cinque Terre swells in the summer when tourists from all over the globe come to view it’s charming villages and natural beauty. Liguria boast 25 “blue flag” beaches (blue flags are used to designate a high quality, clean sea). The Ligurian coasts is dotted with many seaside villages accessible by train or car and also home to the area known as the Italian Riviera.

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Sharing Seafood and Wine with Friends

Excellent “Take away” Friggatorie (fried food shops)dot the Ligurian Coast and serve freshly caught and fried seafood in a cone. Go on, give ’em a try; these aren’t your fathers anchovies!

Check Pro Loco Monterosso Facebook for updates on the rescheduling of the festival.

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:

All Photos by Robin Russo

Il Pescato Cucinato – Via Colombo 199
19017 Riomaggiore, Province of La Spezia
Italy