This was the year we finally tracked down a sagra or two. The Southern Italians are famous for their food festivals, the difficulty though is that whilst they can be very well publicised, little details like exactly where in a town they are taking place or at what time have to be gained by a process of absorption.
The first and largest was the Sagra delle quattro stagione, in Torre Dell’Orso on the coast not far from Lecce. We went with our hosts Debbie and Bob from Casa Mare; after meandering around we found the huge site full of people, food stalls and set up ready for the pizzica music. The routine is that you buy meal and drink tickets then queue up for your plates of food. I had swordfish steak, fava and chicory and a sausage, each was served with chunks of bread and glasses of beer or you could have the local fizzy wine. Below is a short clip taken with an ordinary digital camera of the pizzica. The music really gets under your skin, this is music of the Salento region, the very tip of the heel of Italy. The pizzica tarantella is based on a traditional dance supposed to drive out the damage caused by a poisonous spider. It is worth watching the video just for the reaction to taking an apron off!
The second Sagra was a much more low-key affair, set at the top of the beautiful town of Oria. The idea was that it was a mediaeval re-enactment. Here we changed Euros to mediaeval coins and then into some mugs of potent red wine and meatballs followed by cake and lemoncello. We sat down at the long tables set out in the square where everyone sits together whilst they eat. There was much walking about by knights, but we just did not have the stamina to stay up for any battle which may have taken place later.
Fancy some more pizzica music? Go Here for Spotify list – I defy you not to be spinning round your kitchen in your apron by the end.