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



Get Your Gelato On! The American Tour

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Tempting Gelato Art

Looking for a little taste of Italy in a dessert? The popular Italian Gelato Festival has expanded their American stop this year to include a tour of four US cities. Starting with Boulder, Colorado this weekend and continuing later in October to Santa Barbara, California, Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. (see complete list of dates below)

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A Cup fo Gelato Goodness

The European tour begins and ends in Florence with intermediate stops throughout different European locations each year. The 2017 finale was held two weeks ago in Florence and the winner was Massimiliano Scotti with his flavor “Il Mio Primo Vero Latte” (My First True Milk) . Who will win the American Tour and what ingenious, artisanal gelato flavor will it be????


VIDEO: A Taste of Gelato History (Carpigiani Gelato Museum)


Boulder (September 29 – October 1, 2017)
Santa Barbara (October 20-22, 2017)
Scottsdale (October 27-29, 2017)
Tucson (November 3- 5, 2017)


Gelato Festival 2017: American Tour

Gelato Festival Facebook

Carpigiani Gelato Museum in Bologna, Italy


#gelato #italyfestivals #yum #boulder #gelatofest @GelatoFestUS


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, travel services, heritage travel, custom itineraries, and small group tours at Lisa’s Travel Guides or

BROCHURE: Fun with Food & Festivals Tours!

Tempting Gelato Art -marika bortolami- via / CC BY
Cup of Gelato Goodness
Boulder, Colorado (Pearl Street Mall) szeke via / CC BY-SA
Santa Barbara, California huskyte77 via / CC BY-ND
Scottsdale, Arizona  Eric Friedbach via Wikimedia Commons
Tucson, Arizona Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

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.

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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


Bonfires for the Saint


La Focara in Novoli

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, 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.


Le Farchie in Fara Filioruim Petri


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.


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.

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.

Sant’Antonio di Saronno 
Le Farchie in Fara Filiorum Petri 
Focara di Novoli 


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.


La Focara in Novoli   ɯoop via / CC BY
Saint Anthony Procession in Saronno   Gruppo Storico Sant Antoni da Saronn
Saronno Piazza and Church of Saints Peter & Paul   Lisa M. Vogele
Le Farchie in Fara Filiorum Petri   Cristian Roberti via / CC BY-ND
Gathering Kindling in Novoli   Andreauuu via / CC BY-ND
Gathering Kindling in Novoli 2   Andreauuu via / CC BY-ND
Building the Focara   20centesimi via / CC BY-NC-SA
Lighting the Focara   ɯoop via / CC BY
Map by