Monterosso’s Favorite Festival Fish

June 17, 2013 / Events
Monterosso al Mare, Liguria

The anchovy, a fish that plays a part of traumatic childhood memories involving the salted kind, has a whole different following in the tiny village of Monterosso al Mare in the National Park of the Cinque Terre.

Caught fresh from the shores of the Riviera, mild flavored and white-fleshed, anchovies are at their peak harvest in the months of June and July, and Monterosso celebrates their mascot in a big way.

Anchovies, many ways
Anchovies, many ways

If you are in the area, try and make it to the sagra dell’acciuga salata (the salted anchovy festival) which is usually held in mid-September.  There are also festivals for the fried little fish (the sagra delle acciughe fritte, held in mid-June), as well as a lemon festival (late May) that showcases the lemon preserved kind.

Local elders of the village take their places at stands along the boardwalk leading into the piazza in the town center, cooking and serving the anchovies that their families have fished and relied on for centuries, while kids and tourists line up to snack on Monterosso’s most famous treat – it’s a great way to change your opinion on a local treat you might be hesitant to try.

The giant anchovy fry in the piazza
The giant anchovy fry in the piazza

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Christine Mitchell

by Christine Mitchell

Christine has a Master’s Degree in Food Studies and Culture from New York University, and spends most of her waking hours cooking food, serving food at La Cantina Di Miky, happily talking about food and writing about food – and wouldn’t have it any other way, except maybe with an Italian craft beer in her hand.

You can follow her adventures on her blog, www.lifeinliguria.blogspot.com and you can follow Monterosso’s continued progress on www.rebuildmonterosso.com.

11 Responses to “Monterosso’s Favorite Festival Fish”

  1. louise

    Welcome, Christine! Great Note on those tasty little devils. Would love to catch one of the festivals, better all of them and then compare which version is better.

    Reply
  2. We going to be staying in Parma in September. Great article and we will be visiting the park during that festival. Really looking forward to it.
    Michael

    Reply
  3. Great capture of Monterosso. I bring my group of women retreaters there every September and have enjoyed the small anchovy festival, plus started liking anchovies after a life-long dislike of them in the US. Some of the restaurants even serve stuffed anchovy. Lovely town, even more wonderful people.

    Reply
  4. Linda Boccia

    We love the Cinque Terre and have spent many days and vacation times there, although usually in Levanto where parking is better. We love the Ligurian Coast and anchovies in particular. My husband’s family live in Piemonte, which is more or less near to the Cinque Terre. Americans are mostly familiar with the salty, oily anchovies that come in a tin can, but the fresh filleted versions are divine with a glass of delicious, crisp Vermentino wine. When I was taking several chemotherapy treatments, fresh anchovies (acciughe)were one of the wonder foods to keep the body healthy while under invasion.

    Reply
  5. Mikel Covey

    My wife and I were hiking the Cinque Terre a few years ago and stopped in Vernazza for lunch by the tiny and picturesque harbor. We sat at a table shaded by umbrellas and ordered a plate of the small, raw acciughe. They were served simply with a bit of sea salt, lemon and olive oil and were amazing; like Italian sushi. We kept ordering and ordering and washing them down with a fresh, local white wine. The bottle had no label and when we asked the waiter who had made the wine, he said he had! When we got our bill, we saw that he had charged us eight euros for his wine. That simple lunch was one of the most memorable times of our entire trip.

    Reply
  6. In September, 2009, we went to the Sagra dell’Acciuga Salata in Monterosso. My dad (83 at the time)and I went nuts! It was SO delicious! We stood in line to get our acciughe and then sat on a bench in the little park nearby, eating and swooning over these tasty little fish, laughing as the oil dripped down our chips. We still talk about that day!

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  7. We have been to Monterosso al Mare twice but unfortunately for my husband, not during the festival! I am pretty sure the second visit was to have the fresh anchovies doused with EVO & lemon, he adored them the first time and simply had to have them again! Monterosso is absolutely breathtaking in its beauty, thank goodness we have so many photographs taken there. My favourite is the one of me standing in the Mediterranean with my pant legs pulled up!

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