Sagre e Feste

Most Tuscan villages have “sagra” food festivals at some point in the year, and they are a great way to meet the locals and try the traditional food of the region. In this area and most others the celebrations are about a local speciality from snails and wild boar to saffron and sweetcorn. These festivals can be over a weekend or last as long as a week with different suppers each evening, based around the special star ingredient. During the day market stalls sell local produce and crafts and related products to the subject of the ‘Sagra’, whilst in the evening there can be dancing, singing acts and local talent shows.

I really love the posters for these events; always really eye-catching or garish depending on your point of view. Designed to attract attention from any other festas that might be happening on the same day.

Earlier in the year we went to the Flower Festival in Castel di Fiori and also we have our own spectacular ‘Infiorata‘ here in Citta della Pieve.  Now that October is nearly upon us we will be looking out for the mushroom and chestnut festivals…..

Local porcini mushrooms have arrived in the market and so I bought a couple.  After cleaning them carefully with a paintbrush (they should not be washed, I was advised by the stallholder). They were sliced, sautéed briefly in some butter and a splash of white wine, and then the rice and chicken stock added slowly to make a delicious fresh porcini risotto.  Serve with some freshly grated parmesan and a grind of black pepper.  The flavour is so subtle and nothing like the dried porcini we see in shops.

This morning here in Citta della Pieve roads and piazzas are taped off as we are hosting a festival of sport. Various local sporting clubs and associations are hosting introductions to their sports and the list includes the usual football, volleyball and boxing to the more esoteric yoga, tai-chi and line dancing to the more mediaeval pursuits of flag throwing (sbandieratori), archery and fencing. There was a particularly colourful table set up for the presentation of prizes for the flag throwing. At the end of the day, we spotted the archery club taking their targets home…

On a seasonal note, Bar Marconi has taken down its parasols, the Max Mara shop has a window full of winter coats and the milliners have changed their display from Panamas to jaunty little felt trilbys trimmed with a pheasant feather and sombre dark fedoras, so officially it must be autumn.


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