Regional Feasts & Festivals (Sagra)
Pretty well every town and village throughout Le Marche has some food or wine event, known as a sagra. They are usually held in the summer months, apart from those celebrating autumnal produce, such as chestnuts.
They consist of a feast of the particular local food or drink in question, with trestle tables set out in the streets, and they are open to everyone. You can sit down with a large cheerful group of local people and visitors, and enjoy the best of traditional, local produce cooked to perfection.
There are always other events held at thesame time, such as concerts, fairs and dances. Sagre were originally held for religious purposes, to thank the deity responsible for providing the bounty, and to ensure a good season the following year. They would originally have been held in front of a temple or church and often involved the sacrifice of animals. The meat would then be divided among the local inhabitants.
Fortunately, nowadays you don’t have to witness the killing of the beast, but the food is just as fresh and wholesome as ever.
Le Marche is one of the regions in Italy with the greatest number of Sagras partly as a result of its wide range of products and typical dishes but mainly because it is one of the regions that is committed to and takes great pride in promoting local products and tradional food prepared with centuries-old know-how and recipes.
Here are just a few of the enticing range of Sagre held each year:
Massignano: Sagra delle frittelle (Doughnuts) - August
This festival has been in its present form for more than 50 years and is one of the most popular in the Marche. The little doughnuts are unique to this region, and are crisp on the outside and soft and light inside, flavoured with lemon and cinnamon. Of course there are many other dishes available, and lots of fun and entertainment.
Campofilone: Maccheroncini di Campofilone (Angel Hair Pasta) - August
This thin, delicate pasta dates back to the 15th century in this region. The recipe has been handed down from mother to daughter ever since, and it is now famous worldwide. It is made with the best quality flour and eggs, but no water, and then dried naturally. It is wonderful eaten with a meat sauce (ragu) but is also delicious served simply with some extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of parmesan.
Carassai - Salsiccia (Sausages) - August
This sagra has been awarded the PPP certificate (for Price, Professionalism and Product) and offers a delicious selection of locally made sausages and other complementary dishes, all served with wonderful wine and in a great, friendly atmosphere.
Pedaso: Sagra delle Cozze (Mussels) - August
This sagra has been celebrated for the past fifty years. It is also rated as amongst the top five national sagre and attracts visitors from all over Le Marche region and beyond. The muscles are invariably served with the proverbial spaghetti alla Marinara.
Moresco: Sagra del Ciauscolo (Spreadable Salami) - August/September
This is a spreadable salami which is typically produced in the region of Le Marche , especially within the province of Macerata. It is sometimes also spelled ciavuscolo or ciabuscolo. Ciauscolo is a smoked and dry-cured sausage, made from pork meat and fat. It can easily be spread and served on a slice of bread/toast or as individual slices. This sagra also offers a variety of new recipes made with Ciauscolo including hamburgers, olives stuffed with Ciauscolo, breaded and deep-fried or Ciauscolo served as a roulade.
Monte Vidon Combatte - Sagra delle Quaglie (Quail) - August
The Quail festival is one of the oldest in the Marche and offers succulent roast quail, as well as many other local delicacies. The food is served with the delicious local Rosso Piceno red wine.
Ortezzano - Festa del Vino (Wine Festival) - September
This really is one of the offerings in the local area that should not be missed! The village is surrounded by fruit trees, olive groves and, of course, grape vines, and the people take as much pride in their natural environment as they have for centuries. Wine has been produced here since prehistoric times, and Cupra, the Goddess of fertility and protector of nature, was honoured with this Sagra. The festival is celebrated in ancient style, with jugglers, music, dancing, wonderful food and, of course, the world class local wine.
Fermo - Sagra della Polenta - August
If you like polenta you will love this sagra! The fresh, satisfying polenta is served with a variety of sauces including everything from Italian sausage to shellfish. A live band and dancing is also part of the event.
Venarotta - Sagra della Vitella allo Spiedo (Spit-Roast Veal) - July
This Sagra is also held in August and spit-roast veal is prepared in the time-honoured way and served hot, tender and succulent. Many other local specialities are also in offer, as well as games, dancing and music. This is a great opportunity for the visitor to experience life in this lovely village as it has been lived for centuries, side by side with the local people.
Montemarciano (near Senigallia) - Sagra del pesce (Fish) - July/August
For more than 40 years the fish festival has been held in the village, along with music and dancing late into the night. The fish is served in a variety of forms, including pasta dishes and the famous fritto misto (a selection of shell fish and fish lightly fried in batter).