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.

Lasagna_romagnola
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

 

Advertisements

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.

castle-in-chatillon
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

 

8724477008_42b5428c8c_b-2
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.

22085054542_c3e50cdb89_b-2
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.

15518315057_3899b34c98_b-2
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 Fabulous Feast of the Thrush – Montalcino, Italy

Photo Credit: ViaggioRoutard / Foter / CC BY
Trumpeter in Costume During the Parade Procession Sagra del Tordo, Montalcino – Photo Credit: <ahref=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/viaggioroutard/22289123532/”>ViaggioRoutard / Foter / CC BY

Since 1958 the last weekend in October is marked with pageantry, camaraderie, competition and food in the southern tuscan hilltown of Montalcino.  I attended the Sagra del Tordo (Feast of the Thrush) in October, 2011 and was not disappointed.  From the first drumroll and blasts of trumpets, through the parade of about 150 locals and the archery competition, there wasn’t a dull moment.  It is evocative of hunting traditions of the past when hunters and falconers would go into the woods, bring back their spoils and everyone would feast, noblemen and commoners alike.

Piazza del Popolo, Montalcino - Photo credit: yashima / Foter / CC BY-SA
Piazza del Popolo, Montalcino – Photo credit: yashima / Foter / CC BY-SA

Surrounded by the golden, late fall sunshine and colorful leaves that mark autumn in this region we established our place on the parade route and watched as participants paraded through town making various stops along the way to the fortress.  It was the first (and only) time I have ever been up close and personal with two ghostly Chianina bulls; they dwarfed me as they walked past pulling a cart, I don’t even think I came up to their shoulders!  The Chianina produce the Bistecca Fiorentina, a massive steak served throughout the region and Italy.

Chianina Cow & Calf - Photo credit: Monica / Foter / CC BY
Chianina Cow & Calf – Photo credit: Monica / Foter / CC BY

Montalcino is split into four neighborhoods (quartiere) each with their own tribal colors: Borghetto (white and red), Pianello (white and blue), Ruga (yellow and blue) and Travaglio (yellow and red).  During the celebration two archers from each quartiere compete in an archery competition.  The losers suffer insults and jokes of the winning team for the next year.  Each quartiere also has a food booth in the main park “Giardini Impero” outside of the Fortezza serving several courses of food; you can pick and choose what you buy from each and eat at the picnic tables provided.  The food is great, inexpensive and best of all, local.  Let’s not forget, this is the home of the famed Brunello di Montalcino, a hearty Tuscan red that’s produced with 100% sangiovese grapes.  Try the wine at one of the food stands or venture into one of the many tasting rooms located around town and at the Fortezza.

Photo credit: mava / Foter / CC BY-SA
Fortezza, Montalcino – Photo credit: mava / Foter / CC BY-SA

Pro Loco Montalcino Tourism

Sagra del Tordo 2015 Full Itinerary

Truffles are in the Air! The 85th Alba International White Truffle Fair

Piemonte Region of Italy; Photo credit: Irene Grassi (sun sand & sea) / Foter / CC BY-SA
Piemonte Region of Italy; Photo credit: Irene Grassi (sun sand & sea) / Foter / CC BY-SA

Truffles and wine are gems of the Piemonte region of Italy. From the end of September thru mid-November events are held in Alba to honor the White version of these prized tubers. This festival is in its 85th year and is jam-packed with events. If you’re looking for an experience combining food, wine and folklore, you will not be disappointed.

White Truffle Risotto - Risotto al Tartufo Bianco Photo credit: Giorgio Montersino / Foter / CC BY-SA
White Truffle Risotto – Risotto al Tartufo Bianco Photo credit: Giorgio Montersino / Foter / CC BY-SA

Alba is in the area of the Piemonte known as the Langhe; displays at the festival boast not only the excellent truffles and wine but the cheeses, egg pastas and sweets common to this area. During the festival there is a truffle market at Cortile della Maddalena each weekend where you can smell and buy truffles from reputable vendors. The truffles are hunted by dogs who smell and scratch just under the surface to alert their handlers to their find. Truffles are not cheap and are used in a variety of ways in the kitchen.

Paglio degli Asini 2015; Photo credit: Giorgio Montersino / Foter / CC BY-SA
Palio degli Asini 2015; Photo credit: Giorgio Montersino / Foter / CC BY-SA

The Alba International Truffle Fair is as entertaining as it is tasty. Food and folklore events are scheduled each weekend to fill your belly and your spirit. The folklore events started September 26th with The Investiture of Podesta; participants in medieval costumes re-enacting tributes to the Lady of Alba and the Podesta (magistrate who governs the city). On October 4th the medieval theme continued with a donkey palio, the “Palio degli Asini”, run by the 9 districts of Alba in a traditional mock of Asti’s horse palio. This weekend each district will transport you back to medieval times with games and re-enactments staged throughout.

Borgo San Lorenzo - Alba; Photo credit: Irene Grassi (sun sand & sea) / Foter / CC BY-SA
Borgo San Lorenzo – Alba; Photo credit: Irene Grassi (sun sand & sea) / Foter / CC BY-SA

The highlight of the weekend is the “Baccanale del Tartufo”; each district uses the truffle theme to develop a delicious menu unique to them. Review the menu and pick which of the 9 districts whets your tastebuds and partake in a truffle themed dinner (the menu is posted below). To learn about the other events and tastings offered this weekend and though mid-November at the festival click on the link below and select “Calendar”. Mangia bene!

Event Website: Fiera del Tartufo 2015

Menu Il Baccanale del Tartufo: http://www.fieradeltartufo.org/cgibin/2015/1444555045B_depliant-borgo-si-rievoca_2015_081015.pdf

White Truffle - Tartufo Bianco; Photo credit: Blue moon in her eyes / Foter / CC BY
White Truffle – Tartufo Bianco; Photo credit: Blue moon in her eyes / Foter / CC BY

Bardolino’s Festival dell’uva e del vino

Bardolino
Bardolino waterfront on Lake Garda. Photo credit: Photo credit: NorthernLassUK / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Bardolino is a municipality northwest of Verona in the Veneto region and located on the eastern shore of Lake Garda. Starting yesterday, the town is hosting a 5 day festival dedicated to grapes and wine. The festival is in its 86th year, is well organized and easy to find. Stands serving food are open from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM each week day and 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM on Saturday and Sunday. With stands serving various pastas, meats and cakes there is something for everyone’s tastes. Musical acts performing each afternoon and evening range from folk music to country. There are guided tours and historical parades on the weekend and a fireworks display at 11:00 PM on Sunday October 4th. While in town for the festival check out the old city walls dating to the 12th century, the medieval crypt in the Church of San Severo and the Museo Sisan which is dedicated to bird hunting and fishing of the Lake Garda region.

Bardolino Festival: Bardolino Grape & Wine Festival Link

Festa dell’uva e del vino Guide: programma 86 Festa dell uva e del vino 2015 per web(1)