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.

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


La Pasta dei Martelli in Lari, Tuscany – see website for more information or contact me to arrange your transportation & visit


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


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.


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  or follow her: Twitter @travelwithlisa; Instagram LisasTravelGuides and travel blogging at Lisa Loves to Travel.


Pappardelle al Cinghiale, Lisa Vogele



A Traveling Polenta Feast in Lazio


Making Polenta in Sermoneta

William Caetani returned to his hometown of Sermoneta in 1503 after the death of the Borgia Pope Alexander VI and exile in Mantua and America. He brought with him maize (corn) seed, beginning a long history of polenta production in Italy. If you’ve ever made polenta, you are familiar with the long, continual stirring while cooking to prevent lumps from forming. It can be eaten hot like a porridge or allowed to cool and solidify. Once solid, it can be sliced and then grilled, fried or baked.

Sagra della Polenta in Sermoneta

The local Polentara are polenta professionals with years of experience (and strong arms from all that stirring!). Though there are different varieties of polenta preparation and combinations with other foods throughout Italy, here in Lazio, the two most popular are topped with a tomato-based sauce enriched with pecorino cheese and a white sauce with garlic, olive oil, sausage, chiles, and bacon.

castello caetani sermoneta.jpg
Castello Caetani in Sermoneta

Sermoneta’s annual celebration of polenta occurs on the weekend closest to Sant Antonio Abate day (January 17th). This last Sunday, the 22nd, was the big day in Sermoneta and Droganello,  but the festival moves to nearby communities of Pontenuovo on the 29th of January, Sermoneta Scalo on February 5th and Tufette on February 12th.


Official Program Sermoneta Polenta 2017

Google Map of Sermoneta


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.


 @SermonetaTurism @Sermoneta_ @visit_lazio


Broccoletti on Lake Bracciano

2889576282_132d914697_b (2)
Anguillara Sabazia on the Shores of Lago di Bracciano in the Lazio Region

Rapini is a vegetable with multiple identities. It’s a green, leafy vegetable with buds that resemble broccoli, but aren’t broccoli. In the United States it’s on produce shelves as both rapini and broccoli rabe. In Italy it varies by area of the country. In Rome it’s broccoletti and in Naples friarelli. If it’s a favorite of yours and you are in Puglia ask for cime di rape (direct translation: ”turnip tops”).2050516289_1837d67b80_b

View of Lake Bracciano from Anguillara Sabazia

This Sunday is the 15th Broccoletti in Piazza at Anguillara Sabazia’s Piazza del Molo. A lakeside medieval town on Lago di Bracciano, Anguillara Sabazia is 19 miles northwest of Rome by car or 40 minutes by train. Named after the Anguillara family that ruled the area until 1488, the name was changed in 1872 to add Sabazia, after an ancient city located near current day Trevignano Romano.

3502971101_0ea04011ec_b (2)

The food stands will be serving broccoletti deliciously prepared by blanching then cooking in frying pans with some local sausage. Planted last fall, this feast is held on the first Sunday in March to capture the broccoletti at peak harvest time and promote it. Year-round agricultural production in the area includes: pumpkin, peppers, tomatoes, beans, peas and squash.

#broccoletti #anguillarasbazia #turismobracciano #lazioinfesta #anguillaraturismo #rapini

Broccoletti in Piazza Event Website

Anguillara Tourism Information

Bracciano Tourism Information Site


Photo Credits:
View of Anguillara Sabazia   Nick Peters1 via / CC BY
View of Lake Bracciano from Anguillara Sabazia   sunshinecity via / CC BY
Broccoletti   naotakem via / CC BY
Anguillara Sabazia Walk on Lake Bracciano   Simone Tagliaferri via / CC BY
Anguillara Sabazia Street 2   sunshinecity via / CC BY
Anguillara Sabazia Street 1   sunshinecity via / CC BY

Sagra della Frittella in Tuscania, Lazio

Basilica di San Pietro, Tuscania, Lazio, italy
Photo credit: Rome Cabs via / CC BY-SA

This weekend there are numerous feasts and religious celebrations throughout Italy honoring Saint Anthony, the patron saint of animals. Each celebrates with their own local spin but many have several things in common: blessing ceremonies for animals and pets, great food and bonfires. In the northern Lazio province of Viterbo, the town of Tuscania will celebrate Saint Anthony and hold its 46th “Sagra della Frittella” this Sunday, January 17th.

Fritelle al Cavofiore/Cauliflower Fritters

The day begins at 10:30 in the morning with a procession of cowboys, horses and animals brought by farmers to a blessing ceremony at the Church of Santa Maria del Riposo. Then it’s time for the frittelle. “Frittelle” are fritters that can be made up of a variety of foods. The frittelle at this feast are battered chunks of fried cauliflower (frittelle al cavofiore in Italian). A large frying pan will be set up in the old town center on Piazza Italia and local cauliflower will be fried up and served with salt or sugar while singers perform throughout the town. After the sun sets at 6:00 pm, a traditional bonfire is held at the edge of town, rooted in pagan tradition.

Interior of Basilica di San Pietro
Photo credit: Pelagiodafro4 (Giuseppe D’Emilio) via / CC BY-NC-ND

Tuscania also has an Etruscan museum, Romanesque Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore and the Fontana delle Sette Cannelle, a roman fountain made of medieval materials. Tuscania is about 2 hours by car from Rome and 3 hours by car from Florence, very close to the Tyrhennian coastline.