Amalfi Hosts Historical Regatta this Weekend

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The Regatta when held along the banks of the Arno in Florence

This Sunday June 12th will be the 61st Regatta of the maritime Republics (la Regata delle Repubbliche Marinare). Amalfi, Genoa, Pisa and Venice compete each year to win the gold and silver trophy made by the Goldsmith School in Florence (Scuola Orafa Fiorentina). The regatta rotates between each of the four ancient maritime powerhouse cities, with Amalfi hosting in 2016.

Venice has dominated in the most recent competitions, winning the last three years in a row. Venice also won the first one in 1956 in Pisa. The race consists of one team from each city with eight rowers and a coxswain. Half of the eight person team must be residents of the city they represent and the other half must be residents of the province in which the city is located. They race along the Tyrhennian coastline for two kilometers to the finish line. The Tyrhennian Sea is the area of the Mediterranean along the west coast of Italy.

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The Amalfi Coast between Positano and Amalfi

A parade through Amalfi including each team will precede the race event. The parade includes a group from each city with medieval-clad flag bearers, noblemen, commoners, drummers, and of course, the rowers. The beautiful Amalfi Coast is a popular tourist destination in the Campania region of Italy that was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 and classified as a cultural landscape.

Lisa M. Vogele is the author of Food & Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivals; available now through your local bookstore or amazon.com (Amazon Link to Book).  More information on Lisa and the book can be found at Lisa’s Travel Guides.

Photo credits:

The Race in Florence: https://www.flickr.com/photos/efandorin/3593288188/
The Banner of la Regata delle Repubbliche Marinare: ell brown via Foter.com / CC BY
The Woman in Black: https://www.flickr.com/photos/efandorin/3593298066/
The Woman with Flowers: https://flic.kr/p/6twpiQ
The Amalfi Coast between Positano and Amalfi: jimmyharris via Foter.com / CC BY

FOOD & FOLKLORE Now Available!

I am very happy to announce that the first book in the Food & Folklore series is now available in paperback on Amazon.com. A kindle version will be available shortly.

Food & Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivals is available by ordering through amazon.com.  Click here to buy it on Amazon.com nowA great buy if you are planning a trip to Italy or as a gift for someone else who is. $9.95 + applicable taxes and shipping.Food & Folklore   A Year of Italian Festivals (Front Cover)

Food & Folklore:   A Year of Italian Festivals

This fun travel reference guide helps travelers incorporate local Italian food & folklore festivals into their trip planning and enjoy local, authentic experiences. Whether you have traveled to Italy before or looking forward to your first trip, this guide will make you positively hungry for Italy!

A listing of over 450 festivals focusing on local foods and historical folklore is provided as a starting point to a local adventure. Learn some fun facts about each region of Italy, how to effectively search for festivals, tips for attending festivals and a highlighted festival for each region. A simple glossary of keywords and a cross reference index of food festivals are included.

The Lisa’s Travel Guides website is up and running as the home for publications and events. I will continue to write Lisa Love’s to Travel (almost) weekly as the companion blog to the travel guides filled with fun festival ideas. If you’d like join the mailing list for announcements of events and future publications you can sign up HERE, follow me on twitter @travelwithlisa or watch my blog!

Enjoy!

Lisa’s Travel Guides

Order Food & Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivals on Amazon.com

 

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

Snake Festival of Cocullo in Abruzzo

Nestled in the hills west of Sulmona in the Abruzzo region, Cocullo has a population of 250 on any given day.  That number swells to thousands every May 1st when pilgrims from other provinces and people interested in this 985-year tradition converge on the village. The official name of the festival is the Festa dei Serpari di San Domenico (Festival of Snakes of San Domenico). Why snakes? San Domenico is honored for ridding the village of snakes in the 11th century and his statue, draped with these serpents, is paraded through the town for about 1.5 hours.

4587559906_867411526a_b (2)The snake handlers (serpari) start gathering them in March for the May celebration. The snakes used to be housed in clay pots but are now kept in wooden boxes and fed mice and hardboiled eggs in the days leading up to the festival. There are four types of non-venomous snakes used in the procession. The statue with the snakes and its escorts are accompanied by two women dressed in traditional costumes carrying breadbaskets on their head that contain five ciambellati. Ciambellati are local, sweet, round breads that have been blessed by the parish priest and given to the escorts carrying the statue in the procession.

8090565086_60f4cd07b7_b (2)Stands are set up around town to feed the thousands that have descended on the town for the spectacle. There is a fireworks display at the conclusion of the festival. Parking is quite difficult so expect to walk or be shuttled from wherever you park to the edge of town.

Official Cocullo Festival History Page

Google Map Link to Cocullo

Photo Credits:
All Snake Photos: Olga e Zanni via Foter.com / CC BY-ND
View of Village of Cocullo: paolofefe via Foter.com / CC BY-ND
Streetscape Cocullo: amurrahs via Foter.com / CC BY-ND

 

 

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

Nine Days of Wild Boar!

Certaldo is the epicenter for all things wild boar this weekend and next.  Cinghiale, or wild boar, is a traditional meat used in Tuscan cooking when it is not running wild and destroying the beautiful yards of villages.  This is a traditional feast offered with four courses for a fixed price.  Typical cinghiale dishes on the menu inclide: appetizers with wild boar salame; first courses of polenta, pappardelle pasta and fresh tortelli with wild boar sauce; second courses with wild boar steak or a wild boar and black olives.  Other traditional and vegetarian items are available for selection if cinghiale or meat are not preferred.  Side dishes include beans, salad or French fries.  The meal is finished with a sweet choice of cantuccini or gelato and topped off with a glass of local wine.

Certaldo is set about 35 miles southwest of Florence in the Tuscan countryside of Italy and is on the regional train line.  There are two parts to Certaldo: medieval Certaldo Alto (high) and modern Certaldo Basso (low); connected by a funicular.  The Sagra del Cinghiale Certaldo takes place on Viale Matteotti in Certaldo basso.  It starts Lunch is served at 12 noon on the weekends and dinner is at 8 pm every night of the festival at Certaldo also has a famous street art festival called Mercantia in July each year.

Cinghiale Indiano
Cinghiale

Map Location Certaldo, Tuscany, Italy

Saga del Cinghiale Certaldo

Pro Loco Certaldo

Photo Credits:

Road to Palazzo Pretorio, Certaldo bongo vongo via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
Palazzo Pretorio (close-up) natureandevents via Foter.com / CC BY
Mercantia Celebration (July) Certaldo francesco sgroi via Foter.com / CC BY
Cinghiale Walter Saporiti via Foter.com / CC BY
Pici with Wild Boar Ragu Pug Girl via Foter.com / CC BY
Pappardelle al Cinghiale karen_neoh via Foter.com / CC BY

 

 

 

66th Ladispoli Artichoke Festival

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Carciofi Romanesco

The Sagra del Carciofo Romanesco in Ladispoli outside of Rome, claims to be the first festival honoring the artichoke in the world.  Ladispoli is just over twenty miles northwest of Rome on the Mediterranean coastline along the ancient Roman road, the Via Aurelia.  Named after Ladislao Odeschalci who founded the city in 1888, Ladispoli a coastal resort town in the Lazio region.  There were settlements in the area since Etruscan times.Started in 1950 to promote artichokes, particularly tourism in Ladispoli, the festival has endured and is held in early April each year over a three day period.

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Carciofi for Sale

This festival celebrates the Romanesco variety of artichoke, which is globe-shaped and purplish in color.  Leading up to the event, the restaurants in the area highlight the use of artichokes and offer fixed price menus.  Two popular ways to prepare and eat artichokes are Carciofi alla Romana and Carciofi all GiudiaCarciofi alla Romana are stuffed with mint, garlic and parsley and then cooked slowly in olive oil. Carciofi alla Giudia, a classic Roman Jewish dish, they are flattened and deep fried to a golden crispy finish.

The 66th festival runs today thru Sunday. There will be stands for tasting the artichokes as well as musical entertainment and cooking demonstrations.  It’s an easy start or finish to your vacation if you are arriving in Rome via Aeroporto Fiumicino.

Ladispoli, Lazio on Google Maps

Sagra del Carciofo Romanesco info Pro Loco Ladispoli

Photo Credits:
Carciofi Romanesco   Stefano Pellicciari via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
Carciofi for Sale   blucolt via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
Fried Artichokes   fugzu via Foter.com / CC BY
Carciofi alla Giudia   SignorDeFazio via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
Carciofi alla Romana   lisa_shen via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

 

 

 

 

 

Fabulous Foodtruck Festival

Last May, after a blitz tour of the beautiful Cinque Terre in the rain, I hopped on a train to Sarzana with my friends Ann and Robin to find the STREEAT food truck festival.  The festival highlights food from various regions of Italy and select foods from other countries.  It felt like a foodie tour of Italy, all wrapped up in a bow on Piazza Matteotti.  I’ve always loved the Ape microtrucks seen throughout Italy.  These “tricked out” Apes in the food truck festival are brilliantly designed to showcase their specialty food.  We took turns retrieving a different Italian dish or dessert from the trucks then sampling and critiquing it. Of course, we enjoyed everything, accompanied by some Italian Spritzes.

Sarzana is at the foot of the less touristy Lunigiana area of southern Liguria. Located between the famed Cinque Terre and Tuscany, the Lunigiana are hills filled with villages, thirty castles and of course, fine food.  It takes its name from Luni, an ancient Roman town that no longer exists except for a few remaining ruins.  One of the highlights in the city of Sarzana is the Fortezza Firmafede, referred to simply as La Cittadella.  Built in 1249, destroyed in the “War of Serrezzana” by Lorenzo de Medici and the Florentines in 1487 then re-built, it’s only a short walk from the train station and worth a visit if you are interested in historic fortifications.

Today is the first day of the 2016 European food truck tour throughout Italy. It begins at Torre Quetta in Bari and will continue on to Langhirano, Mantua, Udine, Padua, Milan, Verona and Genoa on various dates in April – June. The remainder of the schedule, which will continue into fall, has not yet been announced.

#streeat #bari #foodtruck #festival #italy #italyfestivals #foodandfolklore

STREEAT Food Truck Festival Information

STREEAT Food Truck Festival on Facebook

Photo Credits: All Photos by Lisa Vogele at the STREEAT Food Truck Festival in Sarzana, Italy May 2015 @travelwithlisa ; Author of the forthcoming book: Food and Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivals, available Summer 2016.

500 Years of Florentine Fireworks

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Oxen Decorated with Flowers

Daytime fireworks, pageantry and excitement surround the centuries old Florentine tradition of Scoppio del Carro.  If you’re in Italy during “Holy Week” you will encounter Easter-related activities in progress in cities and small towns.  Of the many traditions that take place this weekend, the 500-year Florentine Scoppio del Carro is one of the most well-known.  “Scoppio del Carro” literally means explosion of the cart.  A 30-foot-tall antique cart called a Brindellone, also several hundred years old, is hauled by a team of oxen decorated with garlands of spring flowers.  150 people in 15th century dress escort the cart from Porta al Prato to Piazza del Duomo every Easter morning.

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Costumed Procession for Scoppio del Carro

Easter Mass is held inside the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence’s Duomo) and at 10:00 AM a fire is lit using three flints brought back from Jerusalem during the First Crusade.  While the ceremony continues inside, the Brindellone is loaded with fireworks and staged outside the door of the cathedral.  A wire from the altar inside is connected to the cart and at 11:00 AM the ceremony reaches its crescendo.  Gloria in Excelsis Deo is sung, a mechanical dove is lit on fire and then it flies down the wire into the cart, igniting the fireworks.  The fireworks display lasts approximately 20 minutes and a successful execution guarantees a good harvest and business in the coming year.

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Exploding the Cart in Front of Florence’s Duomo

Official Florence Tourism Website – Event Information

https://player.vimeo.com/video/124600802 <p><a href="https://vimeo.com/124600802">Scoppio del Carro</a> from <a href="https://vimeo.com/user35087318">Storm Nylen</a> on <a href="https://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>” target=”_blank”>Scoppio del Carro Video

Photo Credits:
Oxen Decorated with Flowers   www.to-tuscany.com via Foter.com / CC BY-ND
Exploding of the Cart in Front of Florence’s Duomo   moniko moniko via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
Costumed Procession for Scoppio del Carro   Erica Schoonmaker via Foter.com / CC BY-ND