Very much of the social life in Italy revolves around good food and good wine. When having lunch or dining with Italians, you may have noticed that they always talk about food. Before eating, while eating and even after eating. Sharing a meal with family or friends is deeply embedded in Italian culture and tradition. That’s why food has always been part of local festivals since the beginning of time. The traditional Italian food festivals, with regional food and wines, are called sagre. They are equally distributed around the year and cover almost every corner of the peninsula.
Almost every town and village has at least one food festival per year and, since we imported the fad of food trucks from the States, the choice is even more varied. Food festivals are usually the occasion to eat good food and drink good wine for cheap, but some of them have become the occasion for massive parties. So, where to go if you want to eat great local dishes but also meet other young people? Here are the 7 best Italian food festivals for millennials.
La Notte della Taranta is Italy’s biggest food and music festival and one of Europe’s most important events dedicated to traditional culture. It takes place in Salento and is dedicated to the re-discovery and valorisation of Salento’s folk music and its fusion with other types of music – from world music to rock, from jazz to classical music. Every year, more than 150k people attend the event.
All around the concert area where traditional players and dancers perform, you can taste some of the best dishes of Salento (the southern tip of Puglia) like Puccia (a special sandwich) Pezzetti (horse morsels) and Pasticciotto (a small sweet cake). The Notte della Taranta usually takes places in the second half of August.
The traditional giro delle cantine di Morbegno (aka the tour of the wine cellars of Morbegno) is an occasion to stroll around the cobbled streets of this old village with a glass of wine in your hand and some traditional Valtellinese food in the other. Speaking of wine, for a few euros you can have several tastes of the different wines of the region.
Do not miss the local strong red, the Sforzato di Valtellina. The festival takes place during three weekends in Valtellina: the last of September and the first two of October. Check out the dates on the website (Italian only).
The festival of Christ the Redeemer is surely the favourite of Venetians. Every 3rd of July, they all gather on the island of Giudecca, where the church of the Redeemer stands, and party all night long. Historically, the church was built to thank the Lord after the end of the deadly plague that spread in the 16th century. Every year a bridge of boats is built to allow the procession from Venice to the Giudecca island.
The night before the procession, the island is jammed with parties, food stalls and litres of the Venetian most famous aperitivo: Aperol Spritz, a cocktail made with Aperol, sparkling wine and a hint of sparkling water. There’s also the Campari version for the bravest. Mozzarella in carrozza con le acciughe (fried bread with mozzarella and anchovy) is the must-try local snack.
The Festa della semina, or Seeding Party, is a festival dedicated to all things Marijuana. It is held every spring at Leoncavallo, one of the historical Social Centers (aka Squats) of Milan. For three days, the use of cannabis and its derivatives is explored: from construction to medicine, nutrition and sociability.
Pasta dishes such as tortiglioni are served with pumpkin sauce, walnuts and hemp, and there’s also some cannabis cheesecake. The festival also hosts live sets and concerts. Check out the year-round program of Leoncavallo here (italian only).
On a completely different note, Ciaspolando con Gusto is more of a sportive food festival. Tucked in the Northern Alps near Bergamo, this winter event is all about hiking on snow (ciaspole is the Italian for snowshoes) while eating local specialities along the way.
The path is dotted with small food stalls that offer the delicacies of the local producers such has lard, smoked ham, hard and soft cheeses, polenta, meat and a lot of local strong red to wash it all down. You can be sure that at the end of the hike you won’t feel so sporty anymore. Check out the next dates here.
Why not to mix a trip to dreamy Tuscany with a rock music and food festival? Beat is a summer festival that takes place on the green hills of Empoli. Street food from all over Italy is represented through a colourful kaleidoscope of colours and flavours from sweet to salty, from meat to fish, passing through vegetarian food and with proposals also for celiacs.
Plus, you get to hear some quite good bands such as those of 2017 edition: Franz Ferdinand, Fast Animals and Slow kids, and The Zen Circus. Here’s the website (Italian only).
SREEAT is an itinerant food and beer festival that travels around Italy to spread the culture of quality food on wheels. Dozens of food trucks from all over the country offer their best specialities, in a festive atmosphere. The tasty and varied gastronomic choice can be washed down with Italian craft beers, biological wines and natural juices. The trucks usually don’t stay more than 3 days in every town, so be sure to check out the next dates here (Italian only).
If you want to dig more into the crazy relationship that Italians entertain with food, traditions and festivals, check out our article on the craziest festivals in Italy.
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