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)!

Lasagna_romagnola
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

PALIO – The Famous Horse Race of Siena

Last year I attended the July Palio in Siena. Steeped in tradition and excitement it was an unforgettable experience! This year’s race is tomorrow Sunday, July 2, 2017. Enjoy my experiences from last year and this excerpt from my book Food and Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivals (currently available through my website http://www.lisastravelguides.com, your local bookshop or on Amazon.com). The Palio is the culmination of a series of historical activities over a 4 day period filled with much more pageantry and history-in-the-making than can be covered in a simple blog post. Enjoy! @paliodisiena #palio @EnjoySiena #Tuscany #Siena

horses and fantinos

While many folkloric traditions continue as a draw for both tradition and tourism, the Palio of Siena is by the Senese for the Senese. The Palio is held twice each year, on July 2 and August 16, but on the minds of every resident each day of the year. There are seventeen contrade (districts) and each is a community within a community of extended family with its own leaders, headquarters, flags, colors, museums, churches, patron saints, allies and sworn enemies. The seventeen contrade are named Caterpiller, Conch Shell, Dragon, Elephant, Forest, Giraffe, Noble Goose, Leopard, Owl, Panther, Porcupine, Ram, She Wolf, Snail, Tortoise, Tower, Unicorn and Wave.

IMG_0564[1]

Each contrada fields a fantino (jockey) and a horse for the race. Since space is limited and the course dangerous, only ten horses and fantini run each race. The contrade selected to run will always be the seven that did not race the previous Palio and three additional selected through a lottery. They race to win the Palio, the unique, silken banner created for each race. (Note: contrade is the plural for contrada in Italian)

IMG_0526[1].JPG

One month before each race the lots are drawn for which contrade will race. The week before the race, soil is brought in from the countryside to lay the dirt track over the cobblestones around Piazza del Campo. The main festivities start three days before each Palio when the horses for each contrada are selected; it is not until then that the contrade and fantinos know which horse their jockey will ride. The process looks a lot like bingo and kicks off the next part of the Palio precursor, strategy.

After it is known which horse each fantino will ride, the representatives for the contrada begin negotiating with each other. Horses and their jockeys are guarded by several members of the contrada to avoid foul play and contact with other contrade. Participating contrade will even go as far as paying another contrada to defeat its sworn enemy; some will try to bribe the jockeys. The days that follow include trial runs in the piazza, drummers, and flag bearers practicing and parading in the streets. The night before, hundreds of people sit at tables that seem to stretch on for miles in each contrada for dinner. Everyone is wearing their colors and passionately shouting the fight songs of their contrada.

16832569663_b3f993fa74_b

On the day of the race, each horse is taken into the church of its respective contrada, sprinkled with holy water and blessed. About mid-afternoon a procession lasting several hours winds its way through the city and into Piazza del Campo. About 60,000 people are in the Campo waiting for the horse race to begin. The starting lineup is selected, they lineup at the starting line and once there are no false starts, they race to the finish whipping each other and their horses in an effort to gain position. The jockeys ride bareback through the dangerous course, which lasts about ninety seconds. It’s the only horserace in the world where the horse wins the race, whether the rider is still on it or not. In the end, everyone celebrates except the team that comes in second, they turn out their lights and become the quietest corner of the city.

17452959451_8187af982d_b

The August race is the most important but no less anxiety-ridden than the July one and just as exciting for anyone lucky enough to attend. Tickets can be hard to come by so plan well in advance or arrive very early to claim a spot inside the interior (where there are no facilities provided). If you arrive in Italy prior to the July Palio, you should also look into attending Calcio Storico Fiorentino in Florence held about eight days prior.

If you are interested in streaming the Palio live, this is a link to Siena TV (cell phone signals appear to be blocked during the events in Piazza del Campo). The race is scheduled to start at 7:20 PM local time (London 6:20 PM, 1:20 PM in New York, 12:20 PM in Chicago, 11:20 AM in Denver & 10:20 AM in Los Angeles). The start time is sometimes delayed due to the heat, the historical processions and the time it takes to line up the horses (quite difficult with no stalls).  Siena TV linkSiena TV link

IN THE KNOW

  • if you are seriously thinking about attending NEXT year in July or August, reserve a room or apartment ASAP if you want to stay within Siena and/or consider a package through an event operator
  • Ask your host about tickets (the inner circle is free, but seats in stands or in the windows of private homes must be reserved)
  • If you decide to watch from the inner circle, get there four hours ahead to stake your claim (about 3 PM)
  • There are no facilities provided at the free inside ring of Piazza del Campo; plan ahead for bathrooms, water and sunscreen since you will be there for several hours

FOUR DAY SCHEDULE OF THE PALIO  Italian*  English

FURTHER READING & VIEWING

Feature Length Documentary: PALIO (2015)

Palio History: PALIO by John Hunt (several books available on the history of the event and the contrade)

Historical Fiction: The Shepherdess of Siena by Linda Lafferty

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

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

Palio Horses in Action g.sighele via Foter.com / CC BY

Carrabinieri Charging on Horseback g.sighele via Scandinavian / CC BY

All other photos by Lisa M. Vogele

* use google translate, websters.com or another translation assistance site

 

 

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

A Village of Beer and Beyond

 

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Villagio Della Birra Poster by Elisa Meccheri

The rise in popularity of craft beer has not left Italy untouched. This weekend an entire village with its own monetary system is constructed to celebrate an international array of craft beers. You enter the village, buy your official glass and tokens, then proceed to the beer stands using the tokens to purchase the tasting samples. This festival year, artisan beers (Birra Artigianale) from Italy, Belgium, Canada, Greece, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States are included. In addition to the great beer, there are food stands and entertainment each day.  The festival expanded this year to include a Belgian edition and participated in a craft beer festival in Barcelona.

 

 

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“Vecchia Bastarda” Old Bastard Craft Beer by Birra Amiata Artigianale, a local Brewery (not participating in festival)

The festival is located near Buonconvento in southern Tuscany. Buonconvento is a walled medieval town set against a backdrop of the the Val d’Arbia area in the rolling hills of the Crete Senese, south of Siena. If you are not there this weekend, coming up over the next few weekends is the 48th Sagra della Val d’Arbia showcasing typical local foods from the area.

 

I love staying in and near Buonconvento; it’s a small town, not touristy, and serves as a great home base for touring and exploring the Val d’Arbia, Val d’Orcia, the ruins of San Galgano Abbey, Abbey Monte Oliveto Maggiore, Montalcino, Pienza and the hilltop town of Montepulciano. When I am in the area, I never miss a visit with Andrea at Bar Cattivi Frati for an Italian Spritz and Pianigiani Bags for a leather purse or accessory handmade by Bianca, Jacopo and the Pianigiani family. Both Cattivi Frati and Pianigiani (formerly La Dolce Vita) are located on Via Soccini in the walled, old town.14289792_993545934091652_114655592984696124_oBUONCONVENTO, NEARBY & SIGHTSEEING

Upcoming Event: 48th Sagra della Val d’Arbia in Buonconvento Sept 16-25

Local Craft Beer: Birra Amiata 

Pianigiani Handmade Leather Bags

Sightseeing in the Val d’Arbia, Crete Senese and Beyond

Follow on this event on twitter @villaggiobirra

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

Villago dell Birra Poster by Artist Elise Meccheri

Vecchia Bastarda (Old Bastard) Craft Beer: Alex Scarcella :: http://www.ccworld.it/ via Foter.com / CC BY-ND

Street Scene Buonconvento: ho visto nina volare via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Crests on Wall Buonconvento: ho visto nina volare via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Entry Buoncovento Wall: Pietro Valocchi via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

#NOTJUSTAFESTIVAL

#Buonconvento

#VILLAGGIODELLABIRRA2016

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

 

 

PALIO – The Famous Horse Race of Siena

Since I am currently in Italy enjoying the festivities surrounding the Palio and attending the event on July 2nd, enjoy this excerpt from my book Food and Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivals (currently available through your local bookshop or on Amazon.com). The Palio is the culmination of a series of historical activities over a 4 day period filled with much more pageantry and history-in-the-making than can be covered in a simple blog post. Enjoy! @paliodisiena

horses and fantinos
Palio Horses and Fantini (Jockeys)

While many folkloric traditions continue as a draw for both tradition and tourism, the Palio of Siena is by the Senese for the Senese. The Palio is held twice each year, on July 2 and August 16, but on the minds of every resident each day of the year. There are seventeen contrade (districts) and each is a community within a community of extended family with its own leaders, headquarters, flags, colors, museums, churches, patron saints, allies and sworn enemies. The seventeen contrade are named Caterpiller, Conch Shell, Dragon, Elephant, Forest, Giraffe, Noble Goose, Leopard, Owl, Panther, Porcupine, Ram, She Wolf, Snail, Tortoise, Tower, Unicorn and Wave.

IMG_0564[1]
Cena Provale Generale – The Prova Generale Dinner with Contrada della Torre last night
Each contrada fields a fantino (jockey) and a horse for the race. Since space is limited and the course dangerous, only ten horses and fantini run each race. The contrade selected to run will always be the seven that did not race the previous Palio and three additional selected through a lottery. They race to win the Palio, the unique, silken banner created for each race. (Note: contrade is the plural for contrada in Italian)

IMG_0526[1].JPG
Piazza del Campo – Anticipating the Provale – The test the night before the Palio
One month before each race the lots are drawn for which contrade will race. The week before the race, soil is brought in from the countryside to lay the dirt track over the cobblestones around Piazza del Campo. The main festivities start three days before each Palio when the horses for each contrada are selected; it is not until then that the contrade and fantinos know which horse their jockey will ride. The process looks a lot like bingo and kicks off the next part of the Palio precursor, strategy.

Children from each Contrada in the race singing their fight songs before the Prova Generale last night (the second to last test before the race)

After it is known which horse each fantino will ride, the representatives for the contrada begin negotiating with each other. Horses and their jockeys are guarded by several members of the contrada to avoid foul play and contact with other contrade. Participating contrade will even go as far as paying another contrada to defeat its sworn enemy; some will try to bribe the jockeys. The days that follow include trial runs in the piazza, drummers, and flag bearers practicing and parading in the streets. The night before, hundreds of people sit at tables that seem to stretch on for miles in each contrada for dinner. Everyone is wearing their colors and passionately shouting the fight songs of their contrada.

16832569663_b3f993fa74_b
The carabinieri on horse back charge with sabres prior to the Prova Generale

On the day of the race, each horse is taken into the church of its respective contrada, sprinkled with holy water and blessed. About mid-afternoon a procession lasting several hours winds its way through the city and into Piazza del Campo. About 60,000 people are in the Campo waiting for the horse race to begin. The starting lineup is selected, they lineup at the starting line and once there are no false starts, they race to the finish whipping each other and their horses in an effort to gain position. The jockeys ride bareback through the dangerous course, which lasts about ninety seconds. It’s the only horserace in the world where the horse wins the race, whether the rider is still on it or not. In the end, everyone celebrates except the team that comes in second, they turn out their lights and become the quietest corner of the city.

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Palio Horses in Action

The August race is the most important but no less anxiety-ridden than the July one and just as exciting for anyone lucky enough to attend. Tickets can be hard to come by so plan well in advance or arrive very early to claim a spot inside the interior (where there are no facilities provided). If you arrive in Italy prior to the July Palio, you should also look into attending Calcio Storico Fiorentino in Florence held about eight days prior.

 

Jockeys (Fantini) and horses leaving Piazza del Campo this morning after the Provaccia,  the final test run, before tonight’s Palio at about 7:20 PM local time (1:20 PM ET)

LIVE

If you are interested in streaming the Palio live, this is a link to Siena TV (cell phone signals appear to be blocked during the events in Piazza del Campo). The race is scheduled to start at 7:20 PM local time (London 6:20 PM, 1:20 PM in New York, 12:20 PM in Chicago, 11:20 AM in Denver & 10:20 AM in Los Angeles). The start time is sometimes delayed due to the heat, the historical processions and the time it takes to line up the horses (quite difficult with no stalls).  Siena TV linkSiena TV link

IN THE KNOW

  • if you are seriously thinking about attending NEXT year in July or August, reserve a room or apartment ASAP if you want to stay within Siena and/or consider a package through an event operator
  • Ask your host about tickets (the inner circle is free, but seats in stands or in the windows of private homes must be reserved)
  • If you decide to watch from the inner circle, get there four hours ahead to stake your claim (about 3 PM)
  • There are no facilities provided at the free inside ring of Piazza del Campo; plan ahead for bathrooms, water and sunscreen since you will be there for several hours

FOUR DAY SCHEDULE OF THE PALIO  Italian*  English

FURTHER READING & VIEWING

Feature Length Documentary: PALIO (2015)

Palio History: PALIO by John Hunt (several books available on the history of the event and the contrade)

Historical Fiction: The Shepherdess of Siena by Linda Lafferty

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

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

Palio Horses in Action g.sighele via Foter.com / CC BY

Carrabinieri Charging on Horseback g.sighele via Scandinavian / CC BY

All other photos by Lisa M. Vogele

* use google translate, websters.com or another translation assistance site

 

 

In Florence Today! St. John & Historic Soccer

It’s a fun-filled day here in Florence with history, pageantry and spectacle! This morning started with the religious procession honoring St. John the Baptist. Beginning in Piazzetta di Parte Guelfa to the Duomo to pick up additional participants, then to Piazza Signoria by via Caiuroli. Part of the group entered the Palazzo Vecchio to pick up candles while the sbandieratori (flag-throwers) entertained the crowd with their skills outside. The Procession continued, tracing their steps back to the Duomo for the candle ceremony followed by Mass.

There’s another, larger parade this afternoon starting at 4pm at Piazza Santa Maria Novella and ending at Piazza Santa Croce. This parade includes the Calcio Storico Fiorentino (aka Florentine Football) players and is followed by the final match of 2016 at 5pm. While researching my book, Food and Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivals,  the American television shown 60 minutes on CBS featured a clip on this historical and brutal sport (scroll down for a link to the clip). It’s called Calcio, the Italian word for soccer, but is it really? It looks more like a mix of soccer, football, rugby and mixed martial arts slugged out on the sand-filled square of Piazza Santa Croce

9076330480_79e2e2b777_zOriginating in the 16th century, it was once the sport of rich nobles who played every night between Epiphany and Lent. Official rules were drafted and recorded in a Florentine court in 1580 by Giovanni de’ Bardi. Team members from four quartiere (neighborhood) in Florence take this quite seriously. The neighborhoods and their colors are:

  • Blues (Azzurri) – Santa Croce
  • Rossi (Reds) – Santa Maria Novella
  • Whites (Bianchi) – Santo Spirito
  • Greens (Verdi) – San Giovanni

9587293798_bc95cd98fb_bTwenty seven players on each team are half-clad in historical uniforms for the occasion. Each neighborhood is allowed to recruit players from outside the neighborhood and even outside of Italy. There are two semifinals played two weeks before the final on June 24th of each year, which coincides with St. John the Baptist day. Who plays who in the semifinals is decided Easter weekend when colored balls are drawn to determine the semi-final match ups. This year’s final (tonight) features the blues (azzurri) against the whites (bianchi). Tickets sold out in 10 minutes flat!

P1030452Hands and feet can be used, anything goes except sucker punches and ganging up on your opponent; strictly one on one combat – and if you are kicked out – no replacements are allowed, your team plays short of members. A goal (caccia) is scored by hurling the ball over the netting at each end of the sand playing field through a narrow opening guarded by 4 goal tenders. At the end of 50 minutes, the most goals wins! What does the winning team get for their blood, guts and glory? A palio (banner) and a free dinner; in the past it was a Chianina cow. There is no monetary compensation for the winners, only bragging rights for a year. The festivities will conclude this evening at 10 pm with a spectacular fireworks show over the Arno.

A film to be released on September 16, 2016 Lost in Florence (working title was The Tourist), featuring actor Brett Dalton of the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. He plays a college football player who joins in on the action of the Calcio Storico Fiorentino and becomes embroiled in both love and love of the sport.

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

IN THE NEWS

60 Minutes Video about the Calcio Storico Fiorentino

PHOTO CREDITS

All parade photos by Lisa M. Vogele
Calcio Players Romana Correale via Foter.com / CC BY-ND
Calcio Field Piazza Santa Croce alexandraalisa via Foter.com / CC BY

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serremaggio in Tuscany

Last year I attended the Serremaggio festival held in Serre Di Rapolano, Tuscany with my friends Ann and Robin. This annual festival transports Serre back in time to its medieval roots.  Processions in historic costumes, a medieval marketplace, traditional food and falconry all set the stage as a 14th century recreation of village life. There are food stalls and entertainment in each neighborhood of the village, excellent dinners are held in historic structures and musicians blowing horns and beating drums into the night.

We attended the “Cena Povera” on the last night of the festival.  A delicious buffet of traditional food at more than reasonable prices, served in the Antico Granaio (antique grain storage warehouse) and we even got to keep the pottery dinner was served in.  While enjoying our candlelit meal in this unique setting, we were serenaded by the musicians as a procession literally circled the hall while we were eating.

Located in central Tuscany at the intersection of Siena, Chianti, Arezzo and Montepluciano, Serre di Rapolano is a small village full of charm and history.  While not as famous as its spa-town neighbor Terme di Rapolano, Serre is set on a hilltop with amazing views, basic necessities and can serve as a great home base for exploring the local area.

Serremaggio Event Information

Serre di Rapolano, Tuscany Map

Photo Credits: All Photos by Lisa M. Vogele

gelato! Gelato! GELATO!

If you missed out on Rome’s big birthday bash yesterday, never fear, Gelato is here!  What a more perfect way to ring in spring than a stroll through Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence with a gelato in hand.  This weekend is the start of the traveling Gelato Festival.  Held at various locations throughout Italy and Europe, it’s a must-do for iced treat aficionados.  The festival kicks off this weekend in Florence and then has stops in: Parma, Rome, Naples, Turin, Milan, London, Berlin and Valencia before returning to Florence in September.

Have you always wondered what the difference is between gelato and ice cream? In general, gelato is lower in fat, lower in calories and contains less air than ice cream. The reduction of air gives it a dense, creamy goodness that makes you think you’ve died and gone to heaven. The sugar content is higher than typical ice cream, one of the keys that keep it from freezing solid.  If you’re serious about gelato and would like to open your own shop, you can attend Gelato University at the Carpigiani Gelato University and museum in Bologna, Italy to get your basics down.  Serious about gelato, but not that serious, Carpigiani’s flagship store is located just outside their administrative offices and museum where you can sample a variety of flavors served up by students attending the Gelato University.  Carpigiani has also started offering week-long courses in the United States; check out the link below for their calendar and course offerings.

Can’t make it to Europe? You are in luck! A Gelato World Tour is coming to Chicago, Illinois Memorial Day Weekend.  Sixteen artisanal gelato competitors will be competing for the North American Gelato Title at Millenium Park May 27-May 29.  This is both an industry and public event where hands-on workshops will be offered.  Three finalists will also travel to Rimini in 2017 to compete for “Worlds Best Flavor”. There will also be a West Coast stop in September, location and dates are to be announced.  Follow the links below for information and logistics to attend these two tasty events.

Gelato Festival (Florence, Italy & Europe)

Carpigiani Gelato University

Carpigiani Gelato Museum

Gelato World Tour (including Chicago)

Photo Credits
Gelato with Wafer: Bekathwia via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
Two Cups of Gelato: B.Positive.2014 via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
Gelato Cone: erickgonzalez50 via Foter.com / CC BY-ND
 Piazzale Michelangelo Florence View Photos (all): Lisa M. Vogele
Carpigiani Gelato Musum, Tour & Flagship Store: Aidan M. Vogele, Mark R. Vogele & Lisa M. Vogele