We’ve written about how much we love a good sagra, mentioning all the great food festivals held in Sabina around harvest time. But food-themed celebrations – whether religious or mundane – happen all year round, all over Italy.
What’s surprising is learning how many of our readers are starting to actually plan their Italy vacations around these celebratory food gatherings, asking us to draw their dining itineraries to suit the calendar of libations and gargantuan meals scheduled during sagra time.
Here is a broad list of annual sagre and food festivals held on the Amalfi Coast. Stay tuned for updates!
- Amalfi – Festival of Sant’Antonio: June 13, 2017 – The statue of the Saint is carried from the Convent of St Francis to the beach of Atrani where it is placed on a boat and sailed, followed by fishing boats, all the way to the Amalfi port where it then is carried back to the Church of Sant’Antonio.
- Amalfi – Festival of Sant’Andrea: June 27, 2017 – To celebrate Amalfi’s patron Saint who on this day performed a miracle ousting a pirate invasion, watch fishermen race the silver bust of o’ viecchio, the elder Saint Andrew up the steps of the Duomo and leave fish offerings.
- Cetara – Festival of San Pietro: June 29, 2017 – On this day honoring St Peter, the fisherman Apostle, stock up on local colatura di alici, ancient Roman “garum” seasoning, which brings a zing of flavor to any seafood dish.
- Ravello – Festival of St Pantaleone: July 27, 2017 – After the Patron Saint of Ravello performs a relic miracle and is carried around town in solemn procession, everybody eats pollo ai peperoni (chicken braised with sweet peppers and tomato sauce).
- Praiano – Luminaria di San Domenico: July 30 – August 4, 2017 – The theme of La Luminaria is ‘fire’, with a precise religious significance. Before giving birth, the mother of St Dominic – patron Saint of Praiano – dreamed of a dog holding a lit torch in its mouth and setting the world on fire. The symbolism attributed to this vision was that the newborn child would have spread the word of God like a wildfire. Starting at sunset kids help light thousands of votive candles on the churchyard of San Gennaro, followed by jugglers and other performers that play with flames through the night.
- Massa Lubrense – Sagra del Limone: 21-23 July 2017 – All along the Amalfi Coast, towns and villages celebrate local lemons. In Massa Lubrense, oval shaped “femminiello” offers it’s thin, pale yellow skin for the best limoncello, and its scented juicy pulp for lemon-infused sweets and local dishes served in small trattorias and agriturismo farms during the entire event.
- Ravello Festival (July to September) – Music, opera and ballet fans should not miss this unique three month-long event. Performances are held on a magnificent terrace overlooking the sea.
- Cetara – Le Giornate del Pesce Azzurro: 6–9 August, 2017 – This important fish fair introduces visitors to the town of Cetara and its ancient anchovy and other oily fish angling tradition. Abundant tastings as well as fascinating workshops, some of which are held on board of the Amalfi Coast’s traditional tuna fishing boats at sea. At night, the port transforms into an open air restaurant with sample tastings and traditional music.
- Positano – Ferragosto: August 15, 2017 – Yachts, fishing boats and other vessels gather in the small bay of Positano to enjoy local cuisine and a night of music and celebrations that ends with spectacular fireworks, a long-standing Positano tradition.
- Pogerola – Festa della Zucca e della Zucchina, dates TBD, August 2017 – Zucchini, squash and courgette flowers are employed in every which way for this particular food festival.
- Preazzano, Vico Equense (Sorrento) – Festa della Melanzana: dates TBD – This food festival offers the opportunity of tasting eggplant cooked in a variety of ways: melanzane a funghetto, parmigiana di melanzane, pasta alla siciliana, battered and fried baby eggplant, vegetarian eggplant and basil meatballs, roasted half eggplant and the bizarre yet delicious aubergines with chocolate.
- Tramonti Gete – Sagra del Vino: dates TBD – This summer wine festival in conjunction with the “Calici di Stelle” event, offers the opportunity of tasting local cuisine and typical specialties along with glasses of local wine.
- Pietre di Tramonti – Festival della Pizza: dates TBD – Not many are aware that Neapolitan pizza tradition owes a lot to the small mountain community of Tramonti. During the 2-day festival participants can taste traditional pies paired with wines from the Costa d’Amalfi area. At the end of the festival veteran pizza makers return to their home town from Naples to pass their knowledge and blessing on the new generation of young local pizza makers.
- Positano – Festa del Pesce, September 30, 2017 – The town of Positano annually comes together the last Saturday of September on the beach of Fornillo to eat freshly fried fish and other gifts of the sea, cooked in small kiosks along the shore. Music and libations last through the wee hours. Proceeds are given to charity organizations.
- Minori – GustaMinori, dates TBD – Annual food jamboree, with pasta stalls dispensing plates to people in the street, as well as other local specialties, such as cheese, cured meats, lemon-infused desserts and other traditional pastries.
- Maiori – Fagiolata, dates TBD – Annual bean festival, with street-side kiosks offering samples and restaurants serving soups, pastas and other dishes that employ the prized legume.
- Sorrento – Sagra dell’Uva di Priora – Autumn is welcomed with a sagra dedicated to the grape harvest. Musicians play using wine-making instruments and street-side vendors offer samples of grapes and wine.
- Capri – Festival of S. Maria a Cetrella: dates TBD – An intimate religious celebration is held in the small chapel of the Cetrella Hermitage at the top of Monte Solaro. In Anacapri take the chairlift to the Eremo di Cetrella, and prepare for unexpected views. I didn’t tell you this… but Carmine Russo, caretaker of the small 15th century hermitage, is a fabulous pizza chef. He oversees a small wood-fired oven within the complex on weekends. If you bring him ingredients and a bottle of wine, he will treat you to some of the best pies you’ve ever tasted. Again, you did not hear this from me.
- Scala – Sagra della Castagna: dates TBD (usually the first 2 weekends of the month) – Autumn is welcomed with the roasting of chestnuts in the streets of Scala, a small town located above Ravello. Music and folk dance groups interact with participants scoffing plates of pasta with chestnut cream, typical chestnut flour bread sandwiches stuffed with fire-grilled sausage and sauteed broccoli rabe, plus servings of pork roast stuffed with bread and chestnuts, ending with chestnut-filled crostata, babà, and cannoli.
- Sorrento – Sagra della Salsiccia e Ceppone: dates TBD – A gazillion sausages are grilled over a giant bonfire, and served with local wine.
- Positano – Festa della Zeppola: 28-29 December, 2017 – Open competition for anyone wishing to get a blue ribbon for their baking abilities, provided they know how to make classic zeppole, a type of local fritters traditionally eaten in winter time. The jury proclaims the winner and over the course of 4-5 days stands and kiosks offer sample tastings, paired to live music concerts and dancing in the streets.
Traveling to other areas of Italy? Tell us where you’re going and we’ll let you know which sagre and food festivals are held where and when.
Photos © Eleonora Baldwin – Gina Tringali – Andrea Di Lorenzo – napolidavivere.it
Eleonora Baldwin is a TV host, freelance food and travel writer, and culinary connoisseur based in Rome, Italy. Her writing appears in several food and travel publications. Her shows “ABCheese” and “Uazz’america” are broadcast on Italian food network Gambero Rosso Channel. Her podcast “iCheese” is recorded live on the Radio Food Live network.