Chestnut sagre in Lazio

October is a wonderful time of the year. The summer heat has well and truly dissipated, but there are still nice days to be had and any quarrel with the weather is perfectly offset by nature's bounty. Lazio, and northern Lazio in particular, is a hive of activity at this time of year. People are busy. Tending olive groves, heading to sagre, and, when they get the chance, collecting hazelnuts and chestnuts. Indeed, northern lazio is famous for its nuts...

Book review: The Prince of Clouds by Gianni Riotta

I know. I've been a bit shoddy with my book reviews. My last one was the excellent Vino Italiano, all the way back in January. Anyway, despite the lack of reviews, I didn't stop reading, and here, finally, is my second review this year. Coming in at 287 pages, here's my review of this poetry and war-packed epic, The Prince of Clouds, by Gianni Riotta.
Click here to be taken to the UK Amazon store
Set just after the second world war, The Prince of Clouds follows the fortunes of one Colonel Carlo Terzo, a reluctant soldier, but a brilliant military strategist. Having never fired a shot in anger, the colonel has spent the war documenting the Italian campaign, detailing the troop movements, describing the battles, and explaining both the reasons for victory and the despairing ineptitude of certain Italian generals. He's a thinker, an academic, and is the same in life as in war. He's quiet, slightly awkward, always needing a plan, a system with which to keep the outside world at bay. That's not to say he's a loner though. In the chaos after the war, he finds himself retired in Palermo, with a beautiful, intelligent Russian aristocratic wife, and teaching a young poet some of the strategy of war in the hope of instilling some military discipline. This is just the beginning though, with Terzo slowly being pulled into a local clandestine love affair and even having to finally put his military theory to the test.

It's Sagra time! Sagre and Feste in Lazio in September

Sagra!! Sagra fresca! The nights are drawing in, there's the smell of an open fire in the air... summer is closing with beautiful sunsets all over Lazio. It's harvest time. There's never been a better time to head out of Rome and check out a sagra.

For the uninitiated, according to wikipedia, a sagra (plural: sagre) is a local food festival, that often ties in with a historical pageant or sporting event, such as a joust or a horse race (where it is called a palio). Essentially, it's a chance to get out and see somewhere you've never been before, while eating something local, with the locals. I love sagre and feste. I think they are one of the best things about Italy. They combine local food, history and culture, and moreover, they are a great day out.

Here's my selection of the sagre and feste happening in Lazio over the month of September. There are many more happening throughout Rome and Lazio. Check out the LazioExplorer twitter feed and facebook page for updates on other sagre and feste this month.

5th Sagra degli Gnocchi
14th-15th September - Castelnuovo di Porto, Prov. di Roma

Castelnuovo di Porto, a short distance up via Flaminia (SS3) from Rome (and on the Roma-Viterbo train line as well) plays host to 5th Sagra degli Gnocchi this coming weekend. Starting on Saturday at 2pm and with food starting at 8pm with music and dancing at 9pm, this promises to be a carbohydrate fuelled party late into the night. Be careful not to burn those gnocchi off too quickly though, as it all begins again at 10am on the Sunday with the market and then salsa dancing (and more gnocchi) in the evening.

Festa della Birra - Oktoberfest
19th-28th September - Rieti, Prov. di Rieti

A festival of beer? No, not in Munich, but in Rieti, from the 19th to the 28th September. In its 9th year, this festival, which is one of the largest beer festivals in central Italy, will play host to over 15,000 people, with music, DJ sets, authentic Bavarian dishes (roasted piglets and pretzels), and, most importantly, certified 'augustiner munchen' beer. What's more to like? All this takes place in the Edelbier pub, which is actually housed in a palace that was built in the 1700s.

10th Sagra del fungo porcino
14th-16th and 21-23rd September - Oriolo Romano, Prov. di Viterbo

Oriolo Romano, about 40km northwest of Rome, 30km south of Viterbo, is the place to be for mushrooms. Head to the splendid setting of Piazza Umberto I° for olive oil, wine, meats, cheeses, and homemade pasta, all accompanied by locally-foraged mushrooms. There will be live music and street performances every evening, so get there early to get a good seat. More information (in Italian) can be found here, with the menu here.

Sapori di Mare
20th-22nd September - Sperlonga, Prov. di Latina

Three days of fish. I love that. OK, OK, you may not like fish like I like fish, but, if you're in the area and you fancy a cheap, locally-sourced meal, you could do worse than heading down to Piazza Fontane for a taste of the sea. As usual with sagre, it's not just about the food. There's also stalls with local food and wine, plus, a little randomly, a salsa band playing Cuban and Latin beats, a blues night, and events to keep the kids entertained. What's not to like, unless you don't like seafood that is. More information, and the full programme (in Italian), can be found here.

OK, so there you have my hand-curated picks of the best sagre and feste coming up in September. There are many, many more. Please leave a comment below if I've missed your personal favorite or if you know of any other sagre or feste that are worth mentioning.

Buone sagre a tutti!