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!
Brisighella is a beautiful town situated on a hillside about one hour southeast of Bologna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. It hosts many wonderful food and folklore festivals throughout the year and in November there are four food festivals, one every Sunday to enjoy. These celebrations are collectively referred to as Quattro Sagre per Tre Colle (Four Feasts for Three Hills) referencing the hills that are part of the Brisighella landscape.
NOVEMBER 6 – SAGRA del PORCELLO – Festival of Pork Products
The market opens at 8:00 AM displaying a variety of products made with pork. Later int the morning, from 11:00 AM and until 8:00 PM, food stands serve up pork prepared in the local traditions of the Faenza Apennines (mountains). In Piazza Carducci, expert butchers will give two demonstrations (at 10:00 AM & 3:00 PM) on how to work with/butcher pork. There will be folk performers and games throughout the town during the day. Nine different restaurants are participating in the festivals via menus highlighting pork products.
NOVEMBER 13 – SAGRA della PERA VOLPINA e del FORMAGGIO STAGIONATO – Festival of Volpina Pears and Seasoned Cheese
This autumn fruit market highlights pears and cheese. Volpina pears are smaller, rounder and harder than the pears we are used to buying at our local supermarkets. They are boiled, cooked in wine, or baked before being eaten. FormaggioStagionato is a hard, aged pecorino (sheep’s milk) cheese that is often enjoyed in combination with the pears.
NOVEMBER 20 – SAGRA del TARTUFO – Festival of the Truffle
Sua Maestà il Tartufo (His Majesty the Truffle) of both the black (nero) and white (bianco) varieties are showcased on Sunday, November 20th. Dishes are served up at both food stands and restaurants all around town with truffles as the highlight.
NOVEMBER 27 – SAGRA dell’ULIVO e dell’OLIO – Festival of Olive and Oil
There are two types of extra virgin olive oil manufactured in the Brisighella area: “Il Brisighello” and “La Brisighella“. The Brisighella product (ending in “A”) is a PDO Product (Protected Designation of Origin). PDO product designations guarantee the product was made in a certain geographic location and not falsely reproduced somewhere else. There are currently 138 DPO products from throughout Italy protected by this designation.
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.
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.
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.
This Saturday is the 25th anniversary of the Festa del Pesce (fish festival) in Positano. There was a hiatus from 1994-2005, but it was brought back to raise funds for non-profits, particularly the local Croce Rossa (Red Cross). Positano is part of the famous Amalfi Coast collection of steep, seaside villages. The festival is held along the Spiaggia Fornillo (Fornillo Beach). The towns of the Amalfi Coast are linked by the SentieroDegli Dei hiking trail, ferries and what feels like a death-defying coastline drive.
At 5:00 PM the party begins in Piazza Dei Mulini and moves to the beach pier at 6:30 PM. At 7:00 PM the stands officially open on the edge of Fornillo Beach serving calamari, tuna tartare, fried fish, calamari with potatoes, penne with anchovies and walnuts, lemon sorbet and wine! The evening concludes with a concert on the beach stage.
Draped in wisteria throughout town, the “streets” are narrow alleys with a lot of steps. The beautiful architecture is a mix of cream, white and sun-kissed colors. The Santa Maria Assunta church contains a black Madonna dating back to the 13th century. Wander through the town and be rewarded with special views of the deep blue sea and sweeping panoramas of the coastline.
The beautiful country of Italy has once again suffered devastating losses from an earthquake and series of aftershocks that rippled through its central regions leaving behind many shocked, homeless and dead. Like many of you, I have heard the news and read about the tragic events online. I was sad for sure, wondering if some of the villages will be able to rebound after such destruction and can’t begin to imagine the heartbreak of losing a loved one to a natural disaster. Then I read an article online in the New York Times by Larry Buchanan, Josh Keller and Derek Watkins titled “Italian Towns Before and After the Earthquake.” The series of photos illustrating the before and after amplified my sadness to a deep, deep sorrow for all of those affected by this tragedy.
So, rather than writing about celebrating the Sagra Degli Spaghetti all’Amatriciana, a feast honoring the namesake pasta dish in Amatrice, near the epicenter of the earthquake, I am going to provide you with a list of organizations collecting financial aid and contributing assistance. I pledged $100.00 to Global Giving prior to posting this article. Italy has given me so much, I want to give something back.
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.
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
Originating 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
Twenty 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!
Hands 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.
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!