Autumn in Tuscany (and what is a sagra anyway)

by Laura Gray on October 6, 2018

This is a lovely time of the year; the grapes are safely in the cellar and you can see from the relaxed faces in town that Montalcino’s wine producers have begun to exhale and even sleep at night. The leaves on the vines are turning golden yellow and chestnuts are prickly underfoot. Temperature and seasonal specialities conspire to be perfect for Brunello consumption and best of all, there are sagre galore. A sagra is an annual local festival, often themed around a particular seasonal and local food (not just A Potato Festival but “La sagra della patata macchiaiola” ) or even a single dish (La Sagra del Crostino) and organized, staffed and cooked by the inhabitants of the town or village. In a good scenario it is an opportunity to eat Italian grandma food at its best, served by press-ganged teenagers. Sagre are both food festivals and fundraisers and usually revolve around a deeply important competition, race or event of some kind. Local heroes in medieval dress can be seen be pushing frogs on wheelbarrows around the village square at speed, rolling haybales up a hill, racing donkeys or wielding chainsaws. More advice and details of events here The first weekend in October is always the Sagra del Galletto in Camigliano. On the last weekend of October Montalcino will be taken over by La Sagra del Tordo with a medieval pageant and an archery competition which is terrifically central to life here (and not just an opportunity for me to take over the #menintights hashtag on Instagram). Two great articles about this event are here and here.     

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