Sunday, August 17, 2014

Stresa Travel Notes: Summer Sagra Season

Yesterday was Luca's birthday and we went to the sagra in Vedasco for a birthday dinner with friends before watching the fireworks across the lake in Pallanza.

So I thought I'd write a post about sagre in general and let you know about some of the main summer ones in and around Stresa. I'll also include a glossary of the most common foods found at our local sagre.

Look out for signs around town!
A sagra is a kind of outdoor party with food, drink and music. Sometimes they are themed around a particular food (here on the lake that is often fish), but can also be a general mix of grilled meat, sausages, polenta etc. In wine producing areas you may also find sagre devoted to the local wine. 

The Alpini Troops Fish Sagra in Stresa
A lot of the sagre here are run as fund-raising events for various local associations or clubs so, by taking part, you know you are also giving something back to the community.

Lunch at the Alpini Troops Party in Stresa
I often find it a shame that so few tourists come to the sagre. They often do lunch as well as evening events so next time you see one pop in. Have a look at the glossary below as I know they aren't always geared up with translations of the menu.

Music from the Alpini Troops Band
So if you decide to visit a sagra how do they work? Firstly you need to find the cassa where you will see the menu displayed. Tell the guy at the cassa what you'd like (including drinks) and pay. You will be given some kind of record of your order. Sometimes it is a printed sheet with your items ticked and totalled up, sometimes it is different coloured tickets with the items you've chosen pre-printed on. Either way, head to the "kitchen" area and the bar, hand over your tickets and collect your food and drinks. If you forget something or want to have something else after you can always go back to the cassa and order more! We tend to do this, preferring to wait and see if we have room for cheese and dessert!!

The Festa Fonti in Baveno - we loved the 80's disco night!!
The Chestnut Sagra in Stresa
Seating is usually on long trestle tables and benches, so just find a spot and enjoy!

Sagre in and around Stresa that we enjoy
These are some of the summer sagre that we enjoy going to in and around Stresa and their approximate dates:

The Toma Cheese Sagra in Nebbiuno - mid-May
The Alpini Troops Fish Sagra in Stresa - first week of June
The Alpini Troops Party in Stresa - second week of June
The Festa Fonti in Baveno - each weekend end July/first half of August
The Vedasco August Sagra - each weekend second half of August
Taste of the Lake "Sapori di Lago" Fish Sagra in Baveno - last two weekends of August
The Chestnut Sagra (Castagnata) - beginning of October

Salsiccia - sausage
Salamino - another type of sausage, usually fatter and sometimes grilled butterflied
Bracciola - pork chop
Fritto Misto - mixed fried fish
Calamari fritti - fried squid rings
Brasato - braised meat stew, often served with polenta
Spezzatino - stew, often served with polenta
Patatine fritte - fries
Castagne or caldarroste - roast chestnuts
Toma - a type of cheese. Each area has their own Toma. In Stresa you will find Mottarone, Valsesia, Crodo and other local Toma cheeses

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