Every year throughout Italy, many small towns celebrate something belonging to their ancient tradition, and mostly relating to the delights of the table. That particular day take the name of “ Sagra ”: “ Sagra della ricotta ” butter- milk curd festival; “ Sagra del pane ” bread festival; “ Sagra dell’olio ” oil festival; “ Sagra delle fave ” broad bean festival; “ Sagra del fungo ” mushroom festival and so on, there is a very long list. Although it is possible to enjoy these days a whole year, May signs the beginning of the “ Sagre time ”, since favourable elements such as the fine weather, the scents enhanced by lighter air, the days which are already getting longer, encourage a lot of people to participate.
Sagra is an opportunity for knowing ancient gastronomic recipes, tasting local savours, and furthermore it is a way to recall to visitors coming from city, the existence of living small towns, which are the culture, tradition, the origin of our loved country “ Italia ”. The main ways of the small town are occupied by several colourful stalls, each showing one’s experience, knowledge, heritage, ability in preparing tasty dishes, creating new gastronomic local products, or in recovering recipes by ancient customs, but scrupolously relating to the subject of the Sagra. A crowd of people walk along the way of the palate, without distinction to young or old, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, and this is due the fact the Sagra is able to indistinguishably call people’s attention by sharing the same delight of the table.
Once you are there, it is impossible to withstand the intense scent scattered in the air, that like a drug goes through the veins as far as the brain, which already tired lays down one’s arms and obey to the temptation to eat or nibble something at least, something among those gastronomic masterpieces.
As for me, in every such occasion, shortly before to go there I eat something at home, just to avoid of being utterly hungry, but to tell the truth, I hardly ever achieve the aim, how can I resist? Fortunately, the Sagra it is not only a festival for gluttonous like me, it is also an event for all lovers’s art, since the town likes to adorn the event organizing exhibitions, theatrical performances, recommended visits of the place and everything a visitor or foreign guest would want to know, learn about it. That’s a great day for the small town, because it strives to show and prove all the warmth of their welcome, the affection for the tradition, culture, people.
As usual, every year I can’t fail to participate in my favourite Sicilian Sagre such as:
– Sagra del pesce spada in Aci Trezza ( sword fish festival) :
It’s a beautiful sea town, where I go swimming almost for a whole year and furthermore it is the town of the famous book “ I Malavoglia ” written by Giovanni Verga. In this day, the people celebrate “ San Giovanni Battista ” too, he is the patron saint of Aci Trezza. A lot of large grills are being installed at the port of call. The sword fish, which was fished the day before by the “ Spadare Trezzote ” (special local fishing – boat), is wisely being cooked by chefs, adding oil, salt, wild marjoram, a little of fresh salad. It’s a good habit to taste this dish with a good glass of white wine and a smelling local bread.
– Sagra dell’arancino in Ficarazzi – Catania ( Arancino festival):
I cannot translate the word “ Arancino ”, but I might only say that it takes the name from “ small orange fruit ”, but it is not an orange fruit, it only has a similar colour. Arancino is one of more characteristic sicilian dishes. It is like a big fried rissole with a marvellous sauce inside, based on tomato, a few pieces of meat, pease and cheese, but I suggest to eat it because my explanation doesn’t properly describe its particular taste. Besides the classic version, sauce or butter, there are more than 16 variant of arancino, all of them featured in this sagra.
www.sagradellarancino.it ( only Italian language )
– Sagra dei vini dell’ Etna in Milo ( Etna wine festival ) :
Milo is a splendid little town on the slopes of volcano Etna, with a healthy air, a lot of green, and hearty people. I like this sagra, because one can drink an original local wine and meantime tasting a perfect hot salsiccia as well, which is being roasted in front of you. In fact, there are many stalls with grills roasting salsiccia in the open air.
www.comunedimilo.ct.it ( only Italian language )
– Sagra del pistacchio in Bronte ( pistachio festival) :
Bronte situated on the slopes of volcano Etna, is well known in the world for the excellent quality of pistachio, which is called “ Gold Green ” by local people. The sagra shows a delicious and abundant choice of products derived from pistachio, such as pastries, ice cream, cakes, first and second dishes, salsiccia, arancini, liqueurs, and the last creation “ Nutella Verde ” ( Green Nutella).
Now, it’s time to go…I think to be rather pleasantly nauseated!
Buona Sagra a tutti – Happy Sagra to everybody !
“Rosario by www. EtnaMadre.com”
( Photos by Alfredo Lo faro)