October is one of the best months to head to Italy, especially if you're in the mood for food, Source: Depositphotos

These Are 7 of Italy’s Tastiest Food Festivals

These Are 7 of Italy’s Tastiest Food Festivals

And the great thing is, most of them are taking place in the autumn

Right from the start let’s get one thing straight. Between us, we may call them food festivals, but when in Italy use the word “sagra” if you want to let locals know that you’re in search of a proper traditional gourmet experience.

And while we’re teaching you Italian, you might as well learn that the plural form of sagra is sagre, and not sagras. Alright, no more grammar lessons for today! There’s a whole universe of tasty events to dive into when in Italy. Sure, the trattorias and osterias you’ll find on your route across the streets of Rome or Florence are worthy ambassadors of the local cuisine, but that’s just the tip of the culinary iceberg.

Sometimes, you just crave to get deeper into the authentic roots of what eating local is all about. This is where a sagra will take you that extra mile or two. Well, truth be told you might have to travel even a bit more than that since these food fests are more countryside-type affairs. After all, the best veggies and truffles don’t grow in the middle of Rome.

Sagra del Tartufo Bianco (Alba, Piedmont)

white truffles

White truffles, red wine, Piedmontese hills - it's a legend! Source: Depositphotos

Speaking of truffles, did you know that the most prized ones are white ones? Well, if you didn’t know, the town of Alba in the northwest of Italy will reveal that there’s so much more you can learn and taste. Coincidentally, the Latin word Alba means “white”, although it’s unlikely that has to do anything with the tasty earth fungus.

This event gives truffle connoisseurs to sample and buy some of the rarest and most expensive truffles found in the world. The record was reached at a 2009 auction when a white truffle weighing more than a kilo fetched the dizzying 330,000 dollars.

The festival takes place every weekend from October to November and features a truffle market, a truffle auction, a truffle dog competition, and many gastronomic events.

Sagre della Zucca (various spots)


Pumpkins can be made into so many dishes. Source: Depositphotos

Now that it’s October, the pumpkinest of all months, we wouldn’t miss recommending a few food festivals in Italy dedicated to this fruit (or is it a vegetable?). These sagre are popular all over the north of Italy, so it’s best to head to one of the regions there if you would like to try specialities such as tortelli di zucca or soups, risottos, gnocchi, pies, and fritters – all made from the ever-adaptable pumpkin flesh.

At the end of October, one big sagra takes place in Venzone (Friuli-Venezia Giulia), a medieval town, which makes the event into a kind of medieval fair with residents dressing up as knights and noble ladies, musicians and jugglers. In the next-door region of Salzano, pumpkin celebrations launch in the middle of this month.

Sagra della Castagna (Marradi, Tuscany)

roasted chestnuts

Chestnuts have saved countless Italian people from famine through the ages. Source: Depositphotos

Pumpkins aside, nothing says autumn like the smell of roasting chestnuts. This sturdy tree fruit has actually been a staple food ensuring the survival of entire generations in Tuscany, and also in Corsica (France). It can be made into flour and then bread, pancakes, desserts, jams, creams and liqueurs.

The small town of Marradi prides itself on having what might be the best chestnuts in Europe. Called marron buono, enjoying their own Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, they are smaller, darker and delightfully sweet. They are served roasted but also boiled – a dish called bollette locally. The 59th edition of the sagra takes place every Sunday in October. We guess one can never have enough chestnuts.

Sagra delle melanzane ripiene (Liguria)

stuffed eggplants

Liguria is not just the land of pesto but also of juicy eggplants. Source: Depositphotos

Ligurian towns love their stuffed eggplants (melanzane ripiene), even if most people associate that Italian region with the ubiquitous and eternal pesto. You can head to the larger Savona or a tiny hamlet like Sorlana, these sagre give you the unique opportunity to discover the Ligurian hinterland and venture off the beaten track from the crowded Cinque Terre trail in August when the event takes place.

The traditional stuffing is made from breadcrumbs, milk, mortadella, mushrooms, garlic and pecorino. The eggplants are then baked in the oven. Good enough to set tummies rumbling already.

Sagra della Porchetta (Ariccia, Lazio)

porchetta cutting

Porchetta is tasty any time of the day in Italy. Source: Depositphotos

Meat lovers should not despair if reading this far they’ve stayed with the impression that sagre are some kind of vegan affairs. The town of Ariccia is famed throughout the country for its porchetta – a type of roast pork seasoned with herbs (rosemary, yes) and featuring crunchy skin, which contrasts with the sweet meat underneath. Apparently, only female animals are used as their meat is much leaner.

Reportedly, the tradition of preparing this dish and serving it with bread dates back to the Roman Empire or even earlier. The festival itself was started in 1950 as a way of sharing the town’s delicacy with the tourists from nearby Rome.

Sagra del Pesce (Camogli, Liguria)

camogli port

Camogli sets a high standard for fishing villages. Source: Depositphotos

And naturally, with so much coastline, it would be a sin not to attend a fish sagra. We recommend heading out to the fishermen's village of Camogli in the northwest of Italy.

This is a spectacular event that takes place on the second Sunday of May, in honour of San Fortunato, the patron saint of fishermen. The highlight of the festival is a giant frying pan that measures 4 meters in diameter and can fry up to 30,000 fish in a day, requiring 3,000 litres of cooking oil.

Sagra della Pettole (Rutigliano, Apulia)


The Pettole sagra in Apulia can get you in the mood for Christmas. Source: Depositphotos

Pettole are the scrumptious fried dough balls so ubiquitous during festivities all over Italy and under different names. Far in the south, on the heel of the boot, the residents of Rutigliano have decided to make this yummy treat the gastronomic symbol of their town.

Loosen your belts and head down there in the middle of December. OK, maybe first get there and then loosen the belts. Either way, you’ll be in for a more-ish treat getting you in the mood for Christmas.

The tiny friend balls come both in savoury and sweet variants, the latter sprinkled with sugar. It’s a sign of the flexible nature of the sagra, which is willing to expand the limits of tradition by including gluten-free pettole for the first time in 2019.



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