Always ready for a celebration, Italians gather in the countryside or the local piazza with several hundred like-minded party goers in the spirit of conviviality for a festa; a party or festival that celebrates or commemorates anything from the food and wine of the region to pine nuts, frogs, wild boar and noodles.
The word sagra comes from sagra festa (sacred feast) when the village celebrated the feast of their local patron saint. Today many sagra festivals still commemorate these ancient traditions but often are a cross between a country fair, open air market and block party that combines seasonal foods of the region, entertainment and traditional folklore. The food is authentic, fresh and cooked with pride and passion – a perfect opportunity to see and savor Italy. Look for posters advertising local sagre along the roadside. They are great for families and a casual, inexpensive way to taste regional Italian food in the company of everyday Italians.
Traveling in Italy this summer? Look for sagra festivals that celebrate everything from onions to eels to prosciutto and melons to mussels, spit-roasted veal (Sagra della vitella allo spiedo) and bruschetta. And at summer’s end, watch for a new host of sagras. The season continues in Autumn with new oil and wine (olio nuovo and vino nuovo), white truffles (tartufo bianco), chestnuts (castagne) and more locally harvested foods that celebrate the gastro-history of Italy.