A sagra is an evening village gathering offering the best in local cuisine at minimal prices, dance band music (free!) and entertainment for all from pre-schoolers to the elderly. The term derives from sacra festa, once upon a time celebrating the local patron saint’s day.
Italy being Italy, the sacred and secular are co-mingled and today the focal point of most
sagre is a culinary specialty: Sagra degli Asparagi, Sagra degli Gnocchi, Sagra della Ciliegia (cherries, try the risotto alle ciliege!), …della Cipolla (onions reign, from focaccia to the dessert!), …dell’Oca Arrosto (roast goose), …dell’Anguilla (eel), ..del Cinghiale (wild boar), all the way through to late November’s Sagra del Tartufo (truffles)!
…and where else can you eat grilled lamb at 7 Euro, enjoy a liter of prized Grecchetto wine for 8, and finish up with fresh strawberries and whipped cream for 2.5 Euro?
sagre, older people volunteer to cook in fully-equipped mobile kitchens while the younger set serve at picnic tables under huge tents. Retired police captain Antonio served me grilled lamb and cooked greens at a recent sagra. I asked him why he was running tables from 7 pm to 1 am for eleven nights straight. Smiling, he answered matter-of-factly. “Because this is my village.” Yet another example of Italian passione…
When the dance band started playing at 9 pm, the food tents were full with happily-feasting, chatting families. The play area for the little ones was in full swing. but the open-air dance floor was focal point. An inspiration to see sprightly elderly farm couples waltz, fox trot, tango, mazurka, and polka for hours – after a day in the fields! Little girls pair up, shadowing parents ’round the dance floor, while toddlers are waltzed around by grandparents.
There is a
sagra somewhere close to home from early spring to fall, and many rural folk attend them frequently just for the dancing. Sagra: superb cuisine with family and friends followed by open-air exercise, uniting those of all ages.
And what could be more “sacred” than that?
An authorized Umbrian tour guide, Anne and her husband Pino worked the land for many years in the 1970’s so rural life, rural people, rural cuisine are
una passione for her. See Umbria from “the inside”: join her May 2017 ten-day tour centered on discovering Umbria, Anne’s Umbria.
www.annesitaly.com for more on her Umbria tours. Do see www.stayassisi.com for news on the Assisi apartment – and Assisi countryside guest house – she and Pino now rent out.
Anne writes frequently on Umbria and other areas of Italy. Read about her annual U.S. Feb/Mar cooking classes and lectures, as well as her numerous Italy insights on