The last weekend of April each year, Cordoba rings in the spring by throwing thousands of carnations in a spirited procession known as the Battle of the Flowers. At high noon, a cannon sounds as 20 floats decorated in colorful paper flowers are led by a local band, parading down the Paseo de la Victoria in Cordoba, Spain.
The participants on the floats hurl carnation flower heads at the spectators stacked several deep lining the sides of the wide boulevard. The colorful “Battle” ensues and the spectators return the flowery shots back at the floats. The “Battle” started in 1940 but has been taking place consistently since sometime in the 1980’s.
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!
January 17th marks the celebration of Saint Anthony the Abbot throughout Italy. Also known as Saint Anthony the Great, he was born in Egypt and credited with being one of the founders of Christian Monasticism. He is the patron saint of animals and infectious diseases of the skin. He is often depicted with a pig in historic paintings and live re-enactments. The celebrations include ceremonies for blessing animals, enormous feasts, and tons of history.
In Abruzzo, the ritual feast called panarda is still alive in towns such as Villavallelonga and consists of 30-40 dishes, takes all night, and finishes early the next morning. What is the bonfire connection? It is thought that the bonfires were lit to encourage warmth for seeds to grow with spring being just around the corner; they are lit in church piazzas, at crossroads and scattered throughout towns. Here are three celebrations representing one each from the north, central and southern parts of Italy:
Saronno Piazza and Church of Saints Peter & Paul
Saint Anthony Procession in Saronno
Saronno, Varese, Lombardia – Sant’Antonio di Saronno
If the name Saronno sounds familiar to you it may be because this is where the famed, Italian liqueur with an almond taste Amaretto di Saronno and Amaretti almond biscuits are produced. Saronno celebrates Saint Anthony two ways: with festival activities on the days leading up to the Saint’s day and a religious mass and feast on the actual Saint Anthony’s day, January 17th. The festival days include mixes of historical processions, folklore performances and typical food of the Lombardy region.
Fara Filiorum Petri, Chieti, Abruzzo – Le Farchie
Fara Filiorium Petri is a long name for a small town of less than 2000 people. But on Saint Anthony’s day, their bonfire is anything but small. Fara Filiorum Petri began to prepare on the 6th of January when the bonfire materials were gathered from the fields for assembly. On the night of the 16th, the 60-foot tall columns of kindling are hoisted into place and remain there through the mass and processions on the following day until the bonfires are lit at 5:30 PM on January 22nd. The resultant effect is columns of fire lighting up the town center.
Gathering Kindling in Novoli
Gathering Kindling in Novoli 2
Novoli, Lecce, Puglia – Focara di Novoli
All the way down on the foot of the Italian peninsula, the town of Novoli celebrates their annual Focara di Novoli for almost the entire month of January. Musical activities and entertainment are spread throughout the month in different venues. At 65 feet wide and 82 feet tall, this may be one of the largest of its kind in Italy. The lighting of the Focara is followed by fireworks displays lighting up the night sky.
The Building of La Focara in Novoli
The Lighting of La Focara in Novoli
FESTIVAL TRAVEL TIPS
There are many more celebrations for Saint Anthony the Abbot throughout Italy. To locate one, search on “Sant’Antonio Abate” and the name of the Italian town, city or region and you can find a celebration to incorporate into your itinerary. Celebrations for this day often begin several days in advance.
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.
The smell of roasting chestnuts wafting in the air always reminds me of the holidays. Tonight, that aroma is accompanied by the smell of grilled sausage for the residents of Prossedi at their annual sausage festival. The Sagra della Zazzicchia (Festival of Sausage) began at 7:00 PM in the central Piazza Umberto, filled with dancing and music.
Sausages on the Grill
Gate of Prossedi on Piazza Umberto
Sausage contains a variety of meat and seasonings. The sausage served at Sagra della Zazzicchia includes a seasoning of chili, salt and orange peel that is mixed in and sits overnight to marinate in the seasoning before being stuffed into its sausage casing the next day. The sausage cures for up to 4 days then is grilled and served with broccoli.
The Baronial Palace of Prossedi sits proud and dominant on Piazza Umberto. At one time the palace boasted a moat and a drawbridge. It has passed through the hands of several families and continues to be privately owned. Prossedi was founded in the 7th century by refugees from neighbor Priverno. It sits on a hill overlooking the Amaseno Valley, less than two hours south of Rome.
Imola should be on your itinerary if you want an “off the beaten tourist track” location in the Emilia-Romagna region with good food and historical sites. Il Baccanal of Imola is a series of events within an event held throughout the month of November. Its name pays homage to Bacchus, the Roman name for the Greek god Dionysus for the grape harvest and wine. Each year there is a theme that runs through the exhibitions, wine tastings, olive oil tastings, cooking school, restaurant specials, and entertainment. This year the theme is “chicchi, grani e farine” (beans, grains, and flour). There is some type of eating, market or activity offered most days in November. This weekend the local olive oil is the focus; open from 9am – 7pm there is a local olive oil market with olive oil tastings and products.
Unless you are a Formula One or motorcycle racing fan, you may not have heard of Imola. Like many locations in Italy, Imola sits on the remains of an old Roman town. The duomo of Imola was originally erected in the 12th century and endured various renovations. It’s current facade dates to the 1850’s and inside it has a 16th-century baptismal font and 15th-century wooden crucifix above the altar. The Rocca Sforzesca (Sforza Castle) sits right in town and dates back to 1261. It is a very fine example of medieval and renaissance fortification-type architecture. in 1480 it was expanded by Girolamo Diario and his wife, the famous Caterina Sforza. In addition to walking through the castle itself, visitors can view the ceramics and weapons museums housed here.
Of course, if you ARE a Formula One racing fan, a visit to the Enzo & Dino Ferrari Autodrome is a must; in fact, for all car enthusiasts, it’s possible to take a few laps around the track in a Ferrari for 800+ Euro or attend the Lamborghini Academy on site. Whether its food, castles or cars that interest you, you can’t go wrong with Imola.
Know anyone dreaming about a trip to Italy? Or perhaps you know someone that has been to Italy before but wants to experience something local and different? Food & Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivalsmakes a great gift, stocking stuffer or addition to your travel bookshelf.
To celebrate the first anniversary of myLisa Love’s to Travelblog, I’m having an online book signing event now through the end of December, 2016. All copies will be personally signed and shipped* at reduced prices in an all-inclusive flat rate.
One for $11 OR Three for $22 (Buy 2 get 1 Free)
Buy two for friends and get one free for yourself!