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.
The Sagra del Mandorlo in Fioricelebrates 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.
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.
If you are looking for an alternative to the carnevale crowds in Viareggio and Venice, Verona may hold the ticket. Gnocchi Friday in Verona is kind of like Fat Tuesday in New Orleans. It’s the first of FIVE days of celebration as the fun carnevale period ends and the Christian abstinence period of Lent begins. Verona is a city in the northern Italian province of Veneto, often thought of when Romeo and Juliet are mentioned.
GNOCCHI FRIDAY “Venerdi Gnoccolare” Starting around noon on Friday floats start to gather for their journey through downtown, starting around 2pm. Led by “Il Papa Gnocco” (the Father of Gnocchi), 70 floats participate along with bands and entertainers in front of 100,000+ strong crowd. The 6 km parade ends at Piazza Bra, but head over to Piazza Zeno where the real fun begins in my opinion (FOOD!). Gnocchi is made by mixing potatoes and flour, cutting into small squares and then boiling in water. It can be served with a variety of toppings; the Veronese eat it with a meat ragu and even have their own word for the after-effect of eating too much, GNOCCOLONITA!
The best of the rest:
HISTORICAL REGATTA (SATURDAY) “Regata Storica Sull’Adige” Since the fifteenth century, Prince Reboano arrives by canoe on Saturday afternoon and leads a masked carnival procession through the Filippini district and ending in Piazza Bra.
CARNIVAL ON LISTON (SUNDAY) “Carnevale sul Liston” A Carnival party begins in Piazza bra late in the morning and moves through the other districts of the City in the afternoon.
FEAST OF SANTO STEFANO (MONDAY) “Luni Pignatar” Traditional soup and plenty of music are on tap Monday afternoon in the Santo Stefano District of Verona.
FAT TUESDAY “Martedi Grasso” An afternoon party in the Porto San Pancrazio district on Shrove Tuesday begins at 2:30 pm and carries into the night.
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!
Wednesday, February 15, 2017 @ 7:00 – 8:00 PM – Changes in Latitude Travel Store – 2525 Arapahoe Ave. Boulder, CO – 303-786-8406
Thursday February 16, 2017 @ 6:00 – 7:00 PM – The Bookworm of Edwards
295 Main Street C101, Edwards, CO – 970-926-7323
Have you ever just arrived in Italy and missed out on a cool local food festival or historical reenactment? Colorado author Lisa Vogele will introduce you to a diverse collection of food & folklore festivals highlighting various regions. This presentation will interest foodies, history buffs, Italophiles and offer tips for incorporating festivals into your travel planning.
The presenter, Lisa Vogele is an Italophile, festival-lover, and travel-addict. Her blog “Lisa Loves to Travel” has been created to share her love of festivals with fellow travelers and enthusiasts. She loves hearing suggestions, recommendations, and experiences around festival travel. The “Food & Folklore” series is published by Lisa’s Travel Guides and highlights food, fun, and festivals to help others go local as a traveler, not a tourist. Author book signing to follow.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Each August in Sarconi you will find two days filled with food, folklore, and street artists. Sarconi is in the Val d’Agri is a lush area of Basilicata with mountains, lakes, and rivers in the province of Potenza. You can obtain a map from the festival website showing the participating restaurants and stands throughout the town. Nearby places to visit include Moliterno Castle, Mount Sirino and Pietra del Petrusillo Lake.
The beans of Sarconi are an IGP product. The acronym IGP means Identificazione Geografica Protetta; it is a designation given by the European Union when the quality and process of a product are dependent on the location of its production. There are bean products available for purchase at road-side stands, local restaurants highlight the beans on their menus, and educational programs are offered related to the importance of the beans in the area of Val d’Agri.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Every third Saturday in June is the Sagra dell’Acciuga Frittain Monterosso al Mare, Liguria. Yesterday was the scheduled event, however due to bad weather and lack of fish, it was postponed. Bad news for locals and travelers who were hoping to attend, but mother nature could be working in my favor since I will be there next weekend and I am hoping to “catch it.”
If you’ve grown up in the United States, like I have, your idea of anchovies is a bunch of salty, smelly fish packed in oil and stored for god knows how long. They come on top of your pizza or caesar salad and that’s about the only time you see them. On the Ligurian coast of Tuscany, anchovies are a whole lot different. I discovered this last year when I participated in the Mangialonga Levanto with friends Ann & Robin. Anchovies were one of the menu items and it was the food I thought I would like the least, but much to my surprise, enjoyed the most! They are served a variety of different ways but the local friggatorieshops make enjoying them a quick and easy meal mixed with other seafood and french fries.
Take Away Il Pescato Cucinato in Riomaggiore
Monterosso al Mare is part of the chain of five, seaside villages known as the “Cinque Terre.” Located in the Italian province of Liguria, the population of the Cinque Terre swells in the summer when tourists from all over the globe come to view it’s charming villages and natural beauty. Liguria boast 25 “blue flag” beaches (blue flags are used to designate a high quality, clean sea). The Ligurian coasts is dotted with many seaside villages accessible by train or car and also home to the area known as the Italian Riviera.
Excellent “Take away” Friggatorie (fried food shops)dot the Ligurian Coast and serve freshly caught and fried seafood in a cone. Go on, give ’em a try; these aren’t your fathers anchovies!