Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Le sagre

One of my favorite things in Italy was going to a sagra. This is a sort of county fair/feast/festival, usually in quite humble, local circumstances, and usually in a rural or small town setting. I can't remember ever seeing a foreign tourist at one of these. In fact, you rarely see outsiders at all.

As you can imagine, the star of the sagra is food (sometimes wine, which in Italy is seen as a food, or sorta.) Lots and lots of food at low, low prices. Specifically, a food or dish that is typical of the place, or at least very highly regarded by the populace, and locally produced. So you won't be seeing a Lobsterfest in the Alps, for example. You will see things like a pistachio festival in Bronte, Sicily (known for its yummy nuts) or feasts celebrating white asparagus in the North-East. Sometimes the sagra becomes the means by which you discover a little gem, as when I found the hidden valley of Schievenin (not far from Cortina), with its tiny village (in the photo), because of the August Trout Festival. Plenty of cool white wine and grilled polenta, too. Oh, and trout, which I love.

These events will necessarily be off the ole beaten track. Ask around (the locals), notice posted signs, or go to a site such as or, which are organized by region (but are in Italian only.) The sites' listings are by no means exhaustive.