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

 

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A Traveling Polenta Feast in Lazio

 

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Making Polenta in Sermoneta

William Caetani returned to his hometown of Sermoneta in 1503 after the death of the Borgia Pope Alexander VI and exile in Mantua and America. He brought with him maize (corn) seed, beginning a long history of polenta production in Italy. If you’ve ever made polenta, you are familiar with the long, continual stirring while cooking to prevent lumps from forming. It can be eaten hot like a porridge or allowed to cool and solidify. Once solid, it can be sliced and then grilled, fried or baked.

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Sagra della Polenta in Sermoneta

The local Polentara are polenta professionals with years of experience (and strong arms from all that stirring!). Though there are different varieties of polenta preparation and combinations with other foods throughout Italy, here in Lazio, the two most popular are topped with a tomato-based sauce enriched with pecorino cheese and a white sauce with garlic, olive oil, sausage, chiles, and bacon.

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Castello Caetani in Sermoneta

Sermoneta’s annual celebration of polenta occurs on the weekend closest to Sant Antonio Abate day (January 17th). This last Sunday, the 22nd, was the big day in Sermoneta and Droganello,  but the festival moves to nearby communities of Pontenuovo on the 29th of January, Sermoneta Scalo on February 5th and Tufette on February 12th.

INFORMATION

Official Program Sermoneta Polenta 2017

Google Map of Sermoneta

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, custom itineraries and small group tours at Lisa’s Travel Guides.

PHOTO CREDITS

MAKING POLENTA IN SERMONETA    Erik il Rosso via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
SAGRA DELLA POLENTA IN SERMONETA   Erik il Rosso via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
CASTELLO CAETANI IN SERMONETA   Erik il Rosso via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
 @SermonetaTurism @Sermoneta_ @visit_lazio

 

Sweet Sfincia in Sicily

 

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Sfincia Sprinkled with Sugar

Sicily is undoubtedly known for its fabulous pastry sweets. Sfincia, also called Spincia, are sweet, donut-like pastry treats served around festivals and holidays but in particular, for festivities honoring San Giuseppe. The sfinica are made by combining basic ingredients of flour, eggs, butter, salt, and water. There are slight variations of this recipe, but all are shaped into elliptical balls of dough, then deep fried golden brown. The Sfince are served several ways at the feast: sprinkled with sugar or filled with ricotta, cottage cheese or cream.

 

The town of Montelepre has been celebrating the Sagra della Sfincia for over 15 years. Montelepre is located on the outskirts of Palermo, trailing down a mountainside. It’s home to 6,000 residents and has a long history dating back to 1400. The Sagra della Sfincia in Montelepre usually takes place on January 6th but was postponed until January 8th this year due to bad weather. The festivities are centered around Piazza Principe di Piemonte from 3:00 PM – 10:00 PM. If you find yourself in Sicily at another time of year, visit Pasticerria in Palermo to give these sweet treats a try.

INFORMATION

ATMA Montelepre Event Information

Montelepre Map & Location

Scimone Pasticerria in Palermo

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

Sfincia Sprinkled with Sugar By Civa61 via Wikimedia Commons

Church in Montelepre serguei_2k via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Chiese di Montelepre By Dedda71 via Wikimedia Commons

Montelepre Street Scene By Dedda71 via Wikimedia Commons

Abandoned Train Station By SalvatoreI88 via Wikimedia Commons

Panoramic View of Montelepre By Missale P via Wikimedia Commons

 

Transported Back in Time: Venice Carnival 2016

16059773743_504b2143b2_bThe Venice Carnival festivities begin this weekend.  Over a period of two weeks there will be costumed parades, masquerade balls and costume contests. There are more than 50 related events in Venice and nearby providing entertainment, live music and theater. The 2016 Carnival theme is “Creatum -introducing Arts and Traditions”; honoring the craftspeople that have kept traditions alive. The amazing colorful costumes and elaborate masks are a feast for the eyes. Traces of the festivities we see today began as early as 1192. The modern-day Venice Carnival was instituted in 1979, after many periods of stop and start, including being banned by the fascist regime of Mussolini in the 1930s.12850358855_af1e71a3aa_bThe mask-makers, called “mascherari”, traditionally had their own craftsmen guild and set of laws. One of the main highlights is the beautiful mask contest “la maschera più bella”. Held the last weekend of the carnival celebrations, entrants are judged by a panel of international fashion and costume designers. 13444009994_26031bb62f_b
Venice will play host to over 3 million visitors during the Carnival period. Depending on the size of your wallet, you can choose how much or how little to participate. Spending only your time, you can view the costumed boat parade through the Grand Canal, great people-watching, and mask or costume contests. Tickets were still available to some of the masqueraded ball events next week; they range in price from hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on which ball and which level of ticket you purchase. Costumes and accessories are rented by the day and range from a couple hundred to a thousand dollars depending on the type of character you want to portray, how fancy you prefer to be and if you want to pay for professional makeup. 14219240489_e2e082a5bc_b
If the Venice Carnival is on your bucket list, you will feel transported back in time to an age when putting on a dress took more than one person and your position in society was literally worn on your sleeve.

Official Venice Carnival Information

Photo Credits:

1 – Three Blue Costumed Participants: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/salvatore_gerace/16059773743/”>Salvatore Gerace</a> via <a href=”http://foter.com/”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>CC BY-SA</a>
2 – Costumed Couple on the Grand Canal: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/stemonx/12850358855/”>Stefano Montagner – The life around me</a> via <a href=”http://foter.com/”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>CC BY</a>
3 – Parade of Costumed Participants: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/17989497@N00/13444009994/”>Monika Kostera (urbanlegend)</a> via <a href=”http://foter.com/”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>CC BY-SA</a>
4- Gold and Blue Costumed Participants: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/9284966@N07/14219240489/”>guyjr1136</a&gt; via <a href=”http://foter.com/”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>CC BY-ND</a>

 

Sagra della Frittella in Tuscania, Lazio

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Basilica di San Pietro, Tuscania, Lazio, italy
Photo credit: Rome Cabs via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

This weekend there are numerous feasts and religious celebrations throughout Italy honoring Saint Anthony, the patron saint of animals. Each celebrates with their own local spin but many have several things in common: blessing ceremonies for animals and pets, great food and bonfires. In the northern Lazio province of Viterbo, the town of Tuscania will celebrate Saint Anthony and hold its 46th “Sagra della Frittella” this Sunday, January 17th.

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Fritelle al Cavofiore/Cauliflower Fritters

The day begins at 10:30 in the morning with a procession of cowboys, horses and animals brought by farmers to a blessing ceremony at the Church of Santa Maria del Riposo. Then it’s time for the frittelle. “Frittelle” are fritters that can be made up of a variety of foods. The frittelle at this feast are battered chunks of fried cauliflower (frittelle al cavofiore in Italian). A large frying pan will be set up in the old town center on Piazza Italia and local cauliflower will be fried up and served with salt or sugar while singers perform throughout the town. After the sun sets at 6:00 pm, a traditional bonfire is held at the edge of town, rooted in pagan tradition.

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Interior of Basilica di San Pietro
Photo credit: Pelagiodafro4 (Giuseppe D’Emilio) via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Tuscania also has an Etruscan museum, Romanesque Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore and the Fontana delle Sette Cannelle, a roman fountain made of medieval materials. Tuscania is about 2 hours by car from Rome and 3 hours by car from Florence, very close to the Tyrhennian coastline.

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