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.

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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

PASTA FACTORY VISIT

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

ITALIAN PASTA FESTIVALS

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

GLUTEN-FREE?

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.

ABOUT

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

PHOTO CREDITS

Pappardelle al Cinghiale, Lisa Vogele

Lasagne Romagnola, BY SAMBAWAMBA VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

 

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The Great Italian Food Fight

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Battle Aftermath

Oranges are the ammunition of this battle royale in the northern Italian town of Ivrea. Referred to as the “largest food fight” in Italy, the Battle of the Oranges engages over 5,000 participants inflicting pain by hurling 60 tons of blood oranges at each other. Ivrea, north of Turin and west of Milan, imports an entire train full of oranges from Sicily each year for the event.

The Battle is based on stories of real people from the rebellion 900 years ago. At this period in time, the “right of the first night” or jus primae noctae allowed the local Lord to sleep with a bride the night before her wedding. As the story goes, the mugnaia (miller’s daughter), went to the castle the night before her wedding, wielded a knife, murdered the Lord and cut his head off. The locals then started a three day rebellion which is represented by the throwing of the oranges.

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Activities for this Carnival period celebration started in January and culminate in the coming week with historical parades, feasts and of course, the famous orange fight. Aranceri (orange handlers) on fifty carts battle the aranceri from the nine pedestrian teams. Spectators are strongly advised to purchase and wear at all times the beretto frigio; this red stocking cap identifies the innocent onlookers hoping to escape errant oranges. Nets are strung throughout the parade route with designated areas for spectators to gather beneath for protection. The orange throwing spectacle can be seen on Sunday and Monday nights before dinner, refer to the full program schedule below for parade map and times.

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Castello di Ivrea

Historical Carnival of Ivrea – Information

Historical Carnival of Ivrea – Full Program

#‎CarnevaleIvrea‬

Photo Credits:

Battle Aftermath – Sebastiano Rossi via Foter.com / CC BY-ND
Orange Throwers (Left) – Sebastiano Rossi via Foter.com / CC BY-ND
Orange Throwers (Right) – pigliapost via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
Sbandieratori (Flag Throwers)- Giò-S.p.o.t.s. via Foter.com / CC BY
Castello di Ivrea – Galli Luca via Foter.com / CC BY

 

Chocolate Day in Crescentino

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Chocolate Fountain
Photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/comunicati/5898247655/”>Michela Simoncini</a> via <a href=”http://foter.com/”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>CC BY</a>

The province of Vercelli in the Piemontee region of Italy is better known for its rice production. This weekend it’s the home of Chocolate Day in the town of Crescentino. From 8:00 AM through 8:00 PM on both Saturday and Sunday, master chocolatiers will display their sweet wares in the Piazza Carretto. You can walk around and sample various chocolates, dip in the chocolate fountain, view the chocolate sculptures on display and smell the roasted chestnuts filling the air. Games for kids, balloons and a visit from Babbo Natale (Father Christmas) round out the day for the kids.

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Raw Cocoa Beans
Photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/21822583@N08/16062855549/”>CMoravec</a&gt; via <a href=”http://foter.com/”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>CC BY</a>

Chocolate Day Information & Organizer

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Truffles are in the Air! The 85th Alba International White Truffle Fair

Piemonte Region of Italy; Photo credit: Irene Grassi (sun sand & sea) / Foter / CC BY-SA
Piemonte Region of Italy; Photo credit: Irene Grassi (sun sand & sea) / Foter / CC BY-SA

Truffles and wine are gems of the Piemonte region of Italy. From the end of September thru mid-November events are held in Alba to honor the White version of these prized tubers. This festival is in its 85th year and is jam-packed with events. If you’re looking for an experience combining food, wine and folklore, you will not be disappointed.

White Truffle Risotto - Risotto al Tartufo Bianco Photo credit: Giorgio Montersino / Foter / CC BY-SA
White Truffle Risotto – Risotto al Tartufo Bianco Photo credit: Giorgio Montersino / Foter / CC BY-SA

Alba is in the area of the Piemonte known as the Langhe; displays at the festival boast not only the excellent truffles and wine but the cheeses, egg pastas and sweets common to this area. During the festival there is a truffle market at Cortile della Maddalena each weekend where you can smell and buy truffles from reputable vendors. The truffles are hunted by dogs who smell and scratch just under the surface to alert their handlers to their find. Truffles are not cheap and are used in a variety of ways in the kitchen.

Paglio degli Asini 2015; Photo credit: Giorgio Montersino / Foter / CC BY-SA
Palio degli Asini 2015; Photo credit: Giorgio Montersino / Foter / CC BY-SA

The Alba International Truffle Fair is as entertaining as it is tasty. Food and folklore events are scheduled each weekend to fill your belly and your spirit. The folklore events started September 26th with The Investiture of Podesta; participants in medieval costumes re-enacting tributes to the Lady of Alba and the Podesta (magistrate who governs the city). On October 4th the medieval theme continued with a donkey palio, the “Palio degli Asini”, run by the 9 districts of Alba in a traditional mock of Asti’s horse palio. This weekend each district will transport you back to medieval times with games and re-enactments staged throughout.

Borgo San Lorenzo - Alba; Photo credit: Irene Grassi (sun sand & sea) / Foter / CC BY-SA
Borgo San Lorenzo – Alba; Photo credit: Irene Grassi (sun sand & sea) / Foter / CC BY-SA

The highlight of the weekend is the “Baccanale del Tartufo”; each district uses the truffle theme to develop a delicious menu unique to them. Review the menu and pick which of the 9 districts whets your tastebuds and partake in a truffle themed dinner (the menu is posted below). To learn about the other events and tastings offered this weekend and though mid-November at the festival click on the link below and select “Calendar”. Mangia bene!

Event Website: Fiera del Tartufo 2015

Menu Il Baccanale del Tartufo: http://www.fieradeltartufo.org/cgibin/2015/1444555045B_depliant-borgo-si-rievoca_2015_081015.pdf

White Truffle - Tartufo Bianco; Photo credit: Blue moon in her eyes / Foter / CC BY
White Truffle – Tartufo Bianco; Photo credit: Blue moon in her eyes / Foter / CC BY