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!
You have your pick of festivals to attend this weekend in Italy: lemons or fish on the Ligurian coast, rowing in Venice or running in Gubbio. Rather than choose between them, I decided to give you a taste of each.
This Saturday, food is the focus on the Ligurian coast. Monterosso al Mare is the northern most stop of the Cinque Terre (five lands) full of picturesque pastel-colored houses along the Mediterranean coastline. The Festa del Limone in Monterosso highlights the lemon in food offered by vendors throughout the old town. Each year a special gastronomic walking tour is also offered and you can eat your way through each course at different stops in the old and new town, including a visit to a fragrant lemon vineyard. There is yellow everywhere as residents compete with elaborate window displays using lemons, children run lemonade stands, folk musicians stroll and street food to eat, including some awfully yummy porchetta! My friend Robin and I took the tour last year and weren’t disappointed in the quality of food or atmosphere; our group was expertly lead by Kate Little of Little Paradiso Tours and the plucky Valentina (the namesake of Villa Valentina in Levanto, a high-end B&B).
Also this Saturday, The Sagra del Pesce in Camogli has been held since 1952 and is a highly anticipated event. A huge quantity of fish is fried in a gigantic frying pan then shared with locals and visitors. The locals hope it will bring the generosity of the sea to the local fisherman. Retired frying pans are kept and displayed on a wall near the harbor.
Every May 15th since the year 1160, the City of Gubbio, deep in the green valleys of Umbria, holds the Corsa dei Ceri. Three guilds challenge each other to carrying three towering candlesticks, each weighing in the 800 pound range, on their shoulders up to the basilica of Sant’Ubaldo. There are events for several days leading up to this grand finale.
Vogalonga literally means “Long Row”. It’s a boat race from Piazza San Marco to Burano and back (20 miles/32 km roundtrip). Hundreds of boats take part with many participants in historical costumes. It is held each May 15th and this year is its 42nd celebration.