During your travels to Italy, you might have realised that food is a very important part of Italian life and it’s not just regarded as daily sustenance, but also as a way to be social and most of all a pleasure to be enjoyed in good company.
Each region in Italy will invariably hold throughout the year a number of ‘sagre’ or food festivals and in my opinion they are a great way of experiencing authentic food and most of all a wonderfully jovial atmosphere!
Here’s a list of some of the most interesting and best food celebrations around Italy and I highly recommend trying them at least once:
The small town of Nemi, nestled in the Roman hills overlooking the volcanic lake of the same name, is famous not only for its beautiful location but also for its ‘fragoline di bosco’, small wild strawberries that grow in the woods with an intense and sweet flavour.
If you visit in late May and early June, don’t miss their yearly ‘Sagra delle fragole’ or Strawberry Festival where you will be handed out free samples of strawberries and you can feast on as many as you like!
The origins of this International Chocolate Exhibition dates back to 1994. Dedicated to the Italian and international chocolate’s tradition, every year there are food stands set up by chocolate factories and many events and shows animate the streets and squares of the historic city centre of Umbria’s capital.
One of the best events organised are the Chocolate Sculptures made by skilled sculptors who delight to carve blocks of chocolate and true works of art are on display for the duration of this event. During the creation of the statues, millions of chocolate chips are distributed for free to the public. If you have a sweet tooth and want to feast your tastebuds, as well as your eyes, then I urge you to visit Perugia between 17th and 26th October!
The medieval town of Marino, about 40 minutes away from the centre of Rome, is one of the towns that makes up the Castelli Romani region, Frascati being the best known. This wine growing region was famous in ancient times for supplying Roman Emperors with their wine needs and they have been producing great wine ever since.
The annual event of ‘Sagra dell’Uva’ is held in the first Sunday of October and on festival day wine instead of water flows from the local fountain so that the locals and visitors can taste Marino‘s famous wine. When you arrive on this day, you will see that all the balconies are decorated with flowers and lights and the statues guarding the fountains have grapes in their mouths and adorning their private parts.
This cheery festival also includes a street procession with people dressed in period costume and a jousting tournament. Grapes and wines are freely distributed to the crowd, so don’t forget to take some plastic cups with you and enjoy the golden nectar as well as the atmosphere!
As you walk through the streets of Florence, the birthplace of gelato, you might have noticed that 1 in every 3 shops is a ‘gelateria’ and quite obviously here even more than in any other place in Italy, they are very proud of this heavenly creation.
In May every year Florence hosts an ice cream festival that celebrates its origins, history, background and future with Buontalenti, the biggest home-made gelato mobile lab ever built in the world. With flavours like Honey Pinenut Orange and Mascarpone with Orange and Organic Coffee, it’s really hard to choose which new flavour to go for!
10 of the best ice cream parlours in the whole of Italy take part and at the end of the 4 days the best gelateria is elected! Personally I can’t think of a better reason to visit Florence next year and taste some of the best gelato in the world!