From spring to fall, a prodigious number of local festivals, known as sagre
(plural of sagra), pop up across Italy. They are generally held in the
smaller medieval towns and villages sprinkled throughout Italy’s
countryside. People are drawn from near and afar to join the celebration of
Sagra is related to sacrum, which means sacred, and originally it indicated
a feast in front of a temple. People would sacrifice animals, offer the
season’s produce to the gods and then eat and have fun together. During
the Christian Age the sagra became the celebration of the patron saint with
services, parades, followed by nights of feasting and dancing.
In the last decades, many sagre have been dedicated to food; actually, to
one specific seasonal ingredient or dish which is associated with that town
or local area and the name of the sagra includes it: Sagra della Porchetta
(spit-roasted pork), Sagra dell’Anguilla (eel), Sagra dell’Oca Arrostita
(roast goose), Sagra degli Asparagi (asparagus), Sagra delle Ciliegie
(cherries): An array of amazing gastronomic specialities. Always keep in
mind that Italian food customs are very regional. To discover Italy going
to sagre in different regions would be a very interesting experience and a
fun way to plan a trip.
We love sagra. To go to a sagra is one of the best things one can do while
in Italy. These social gatherings are an opportunity to eat dishes and drink
wine made so proudly by the locals and at better prices than at a restaurant.
A sagra is the joint effort of an entire community; many villages prepare
for the festival months prior to the actual event and it’s all volunteer work.
The money made or goes to charity or to fund the next year’s festival.
You’ll see all generations at work. Men and women preparing culinary
delights while younger people serve and clean tables.
Once your food is served you’ll eat under huge tents at communal tables
where you’ll find happily-feasting and chatting families. By the way, if
you know some Italian, you’ll often hear the ladies evaluating the food and
sharing how they make that particular dish at home.
Laugh, joke over a good dish and toast to life and be for an evening part of
Take a walk, under the starlit sky, around the stands. The always present,
tantalizing, candy ones that fill the air with the smell of different types of
torrone (nougat), of croccanti (honey-covered hazelnuts) and dried fruits
of every sort and look at the works of talented artisans and at the local
The allegria is accented with the addition of music. Around 9 pm the
dance band will start and you’ll see people head over to the open-air dance
Even the elderly man, that you would have sworn was breathing from an
oxygen tank just moments before, will be dancing to waltz, mazurka and
polka music. Young children will be trying the moves, copying their
parents or grandparents.
Sagra meant originally sacred, a sacred feast to the gods and today, we can
say, that it’s still sacred because it celebrates our joy and pride of being
together as a family, as a community no matter how small we are.
Next time you come visit our homeland, seek out a sagra festival in a
nearby town while traveling and get a taste of that authentic way of life
that makes Italy so bella .