In Italy a sagra is a village festival, very often concerning food but also sometimes historical pageants or sporting events. Originally old country fairs, today many towns organize these events both for the village people as well as to attract visitors, especially during the summer when the weather is more favourable for these outdoors activities. Tuscany has a large tradition of sagre which often are dedicated to a specific local dish and the name of the festival includes that precise gastronomic speciality, such as the Sagra del Tartufo, the Truffles Festival, the Sagra del Fungo Porcino e della Bistecca, the Boletus Mushroom and Steak Festival, the Sagra del Cinghiale, the Wild Boar Festival, and so forth.
Long tables are assembled in a square or some recreation centre large enough to host everyone and visitors can chose from mouth-watering menu, generally just hanging outside the main entrance or next to the cash desk. Sometimes, in fact, people queue up at the cash desk before seating themselves and order their meal while in other festivals the ‘waiters’, usually village people volunteering for the occasion, come directly to the table and take the order. Mostly homemade the sagre are an excellent way of coming into direct contact with the local habits, including traditional dishes and excellent wine, of the region you’re visiting. They are an invitation to spend a day differently in contact with the cordiality of the local people, the traditions of their land and the genuineness of their products: a perfect combination of folklore, culture and gastronomy.
After a summer packed with sagre over all Tuscany, this weekend – 1st and 2nd October- Carmigliano, a hamlet of Montalcino, the hometown of the exceptional Brunello wine, is hosting its traditional Sagra del Galletto, the Cockerel Festival. Held annually, the first Sunday of October, the event is intended to also be an enhancement of the Sienese countryside since the dishes served at Carmigliano are the result of old country recipes. The cockerels are tasty farmyard birds, suitable for the preparation of the famous scottiglia, ‘the browning’, a method which requires cooking for a long time on a low flame. The meat, in fact, is prepared on a grill fired with coal in the nearby woods. The pies, because dessert is never missing, are instead baked in wood-burning ovens according to old tradition. The wines served are various vintages of the Brunello of Montalcino, perfect for dishes prepared so patiently and lovingly. A gastronomy typically rural and genuine.
Within the sagra Carmigliano also holds its traditional Torneo di Druzzola, the Druzzola Tournament, a competition amongst the quarters of Montalcino and its castles. The ‘Throwing of the Druzzola’ is carried out wearing 14th century costumes and recalls a very popular ancient game of this area, handed down until today from father to son. The druzzola is a 12cm circle made of olive wood and rimmed with iron which is hurled by means of a short rope, cleverly wrapped around the iron circumference, which serves to give direction and speed to the druzzola. The throws can even exceed 200 meters. The prize is a silver rimmed druzzola awarded to both the thrower and his quarter or castle. The event ends with rural dancing in costume by the local Folklore Group.
Montalcino will end the thematic hunting season sagre with its Sagra del Tordo, Thrush Festival, generally on the last Sunday of October. For those wanting to try these village festivals personally next year we offer a wide selection of holiday homes in Val d’Orcia and not only.