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

 

 

 

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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

500 Years of Florentine Fireworks

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Oxen Decorated with Flowers

Daytime fireworks, pageantry and excitement surround the centuries old Florentine tradition of Scoppio del Carro.  If you’re in Italy during “Holy Week” you will encounter Easter-related activities in progress in cities and small towns.  Of the many traditions that take place this weekend, the 500-year Florentine Scoppio del Carro is one of the most well-known.  “Scoppio del Carro” literally means explosion of the cart.  A 30-foot-tall antique cart called a Brindellone, also several hundred years old, is hauled by a team of oxen decorated with garlands of spring flowers.  150 people in 15th century dress escort the cart from Porta al Prato to Piazza del Duomo every Easter morning.

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Costumed Procession for Scoppio del Carro

Easter Mass is held inside the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence’s Duomo) and at 10:00 AM a fire is lit using three flints brought back from Jerusalem during the First Crusade.  While the ceremony continues inside, the Brindellone is loaded with fireworks and staged outside the door of the cathedral.  A wire from the altar inside is connected to the cart and at 11:00 AM the ceremony reaches its crescendo.  Gloria in Excelsis Deo is sung, a mechanical dove is lit on fire and then it flies down the wire into the cart, igniting the fireworks.  The fireworks display lasts approximately 20 minutes and a successful execution guarantees a good harvest and business in the coming year.

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Exploding the Cart in Front of Florence’s Duomo

Official Florence Tourism Website – Event Information

https://player.vimeo.com/video/124600802 <p><a href="https://vimeo.com/124600802">Scoppio del Carro</a> from <a href="https://vimeo.com/user35087318">Storm Nylen</a> on <a href="https://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>” target=”_blank”>Scoppio del Carro Video

Photo Credits:
Oxen Decorated with Flowers   www.to-tuscany.com via Foter.com / CC BY-ND
Exploding of the Cart in Front of Florence’s Duomo   moniko moniko via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
Costumed Procession for Scoppio del Carro   Erica Schoonmaker via Foter.com / CC BY-ND

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweets of San Giuseppe

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Fritelle and White Wine

La Festa di San Giuseppe (Feast of Saint Joseph) is celebrated throughout Italy on March 19th each year. Wherever you are, you’re sure to find some sort of celebration. Traditional dishes and desserts on this day honor the husband of the Virgin Mary.  In the Lombardy region it’s traditional to eat tortelli.  If you’re in the Molise region you’ll sit down to a 13-course meal.  In Apulia you’ll have a similar 13 course meal, but with a peppery twist. In Sicily platters of food are served alongside special breads. As tantalizing as the thought of these large Italian meals are, it’s the desserts that are my main attraction.

114848820_9539fa3e4c_oZeppole, Fritelle or Bigne di San Giuseppe, an Italian donut by any name and I’ll line up to buy some. What’s the difference? Depends on where in Italy you are. If you are in Rome, Tuscany, Umbria and points north, they are called fritelle, made with rice and filled with custard. Further South in Naples, Campania or Sicily, its zeppole you’re looking for. Each have a base of flour, egg, butter and sugar. Bigne di San Giuseppe are deep fried, filled with custard and then rolled in sugar. Zeppole are deep fried balls rolled in sugar or drizzled in honey.

The variety of zeppole in Southern Italy vary even further by region. In Campania they are sprinkled with powdered sugar and use cherries in syrup for decoration. Near Lecce, they may have some grated lemon and are fried or baked. Sicilian zeppole are fried and dressed with orange honey and powdered sugar with cinnamon. In Reggio Calabria they are small cream puffs stuffed with ricotta. The bottom line is if you like sweets, you’ll find them at a Festa di San Giuseppe.  Mangiare dolci!

#zeppole #fritelle #sangiuseppe #19marzo #italianfestivals #italy #dolci

Photo Credits:
Fritelle with White Wine   Salvadonica, Chianti, Tuscany via Foter.com / CC BY
Zeppole with Cherries  Finizio via Foter.com / CC BY-ND
Zeppole in a Cone  arnold | inuyaki via Foter.com / CC BY
Zeppole in Donut Shape   Auntie Katkat via Foter.com / CC BY
Making Zeppole   emilydickinsonridesabmx via Foter.com / CC BY

 

For the Love of Cheese: 12th Festival del Formaggio

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Cheeses Ready for Sale

This weekend, the market town of Campo Tures is a haven for Turophiles, connoisseurs and lovers of cheese. Three days full of exhibitions, talks, live cooking demonstrations and cheese tastings. There are five DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) quality-controlled cheeses from this region: Asiago, Grana Padano, Provolone Valpadana, Spressa delle Giudicarie, and Stelvio/Stilfser; all are cheeses made with cow’s milk. 100 cheese exhibitors from the Alto Adige region, other parts of Italy and other countries will exhibit close to 1,000 types of cheeses. Though the festival is only three days, restaurants in town will feature cheese tasting menus throughout the next week.

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The Dolomites

Campo Tures lies amid the impressive landscapes of Italy’s Dolomite Mountains. Though the town is within Italy, it is primarily German-speaking. Located along the border with Austria, it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918 when the South Tyrol was promised to Italy as part of the Treaty of London. Campo Tures is also known as Sand in Taufers, the ancestral seat of the Lords of Taufers who died out in 1340. Castle Taufers stands high above the Ahr River, has been restored from disrepair and is open to tourists.

The Ahr River Valley and Campo Tures can be reached by car (best) or public transportation (connections/longer) and is about 43 miles northeast of Bolzano. It serves as a base for exploring the surrounding mountains on foot during the summer and snow showing and skiing in the Dolomites in the winter.

Festival del Formaggio Official Site

Sud Tirol (South Tyrol) Area Tourism Information

Google Maps – Campo Tures, Sud Tirol, Alto Adige, Italy

#campotures #formaggio #cheese festival #altoadige #sudtirol #southtyrol #kase

Photo Credits:
Cheeses Ready for Sale   Michela Simoncini via Foter.com / CC BY
The Dolomites   Erika Gilraen Loss via Foter.com / CC BY-ND
Castle Taufers in Campo Tures   Allie_Caulfield via Foter.com / CC BY
The Ahr River in Camp Tures   Allie_Caulfield via Foter.com / CC BY
Courtyard of Castle Taufers in Campo Tures   Allie_Caulfield via Foter.com / CC BY

 

 

NERO NORCIA: Black Truffles in Umbria

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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.

 

Piazza San Benedetto has been the center of the town since the middle ages and includes the historic Palazzo Communale (14th century) and church of San Benedetto (Middle Ages). It serves as the base of operations for the 53rd Nero Norcia celebration of winter black truffles that began this morning and continues this weekend and next. Aside from the usual festival treats of food stands, music and children’s activities there’s a magician, photography exhibit and speakers about truffle production in the area. Tasting tours via horse drawn carriages, are organized by dairy company Gruppo Grifo both Sundays and include local chocolate and dairy products (purchase tickets at their festival stand).

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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

53rd Nero Norcia Information

Umbria Tourism

@umbriatourism

Umbria Tourism on Facebook

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

 

 

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. On Saturday at afternoon at 4:30 PM, a parade of folk groups kicks the evening off. Starting at 7:00 PM Sicilian street food will be served in Piazza Marconi. If you‘d like something more formal, various restaurants participate in fixed menus that incorporate the use of the almond as the highlighted ingredient. On Sunday at 10:00 AM don’t miss the 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 71st Feast of the Almond Blossom, it’s the 61st International Folklore Festival. This is the second weekend and it continues each weekend through March 13th.

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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