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Postcard - No Sagra for You!

Maureen from Boston

While eating breakfast on a sunny May Sunday in Florence, we (my sister, her daughters, Beatrice and Eugenia, aged 13 and 14, and I) realized it was a rare occurrence, none of us had any plans for the entire day. We could spend the day together, and one of my nieces suggested we do something "touristy" as my reward for always cooking when I'm there.

I grabbed the newspaper and my copy of Firenze Spettacolo, and began to search for a way to spend this rare day. Ahhhh! Sagre! It seemed a gorgeous day to take a drive out of the city, and I almost never get to do something like that.

The first listing I read aloud was for Borgo S. Lorenzo: Vivi lo Sport. Beatrice had gone there yesterday. Next, Festa del donatori di sangue in Buti, but donating blood was not what we'd had in mind. Cascina had the sagra dell'anguilla, but none of us is fond enough of eels to spend a day with them. Bagni di Lucca had a gardening fiera, which seemed silly since we all live in fourth floor city apartments. For that reason we also decided against the mercato di piante e fiori in Fiesole. The festa della ciliegia looked positive. Having read an article about the late, and poor, cherry harvest and having seen only imported cherries at the market- at seven to nine euro per chilo- I called the number listed and found the festa was postponed until the following weekend.

There were many cantine aperte, a Mostra del Chianti, and several degustazioni di vino, but since I was driving and no one else drinks, or drives (although Eugenia generously offered to do both, or either) those seemed fruitless to pursue.

Our current glut of strawberries - I had brought home a huge tray from the market, only to be met by a cousin who kindly was dropping off an enormous basket of berries from their patch in Prato - made the Sagre delle fragole con panna in both Reggello and S. Guiliano seem redundant.

Castelfiorentino offered a day long degustazioni a base di trippa, one of the few foods that none of us will eat. Empoli's sagra del ranocchio met with the same shudders of disgust. Add frogs, along with tripe, to our "thanks, but no thanks" list. Eugenia's allergic reaction to some types of mushroom nixed the sagra del fungo prugnolo in Firenzuola, as we weren't exactly sure what these were and what other mushrooms might be involved. The Fierucola della polvere in Tavarnelle V. Di Pesa was greeted with much laughter; our apartment was covered in scaffolding and was filled with dust from work on the outside walls and roof. It was suggested that we could bring our own dust, and probably win any competition there might be.

We realized how desperate circumstances had become when we considered driving to Larciano (PT), a place totally unknown to us, for the sagra del bombolone. Eugenia reminded me I don't like donuts. And oddly enough I had just brought a box of Dunkin' Donuts, from the shop at the departure terminal at Logan, after Beatrice had requested "Can you bring those donuts that Homer always eats? I'd like to try them.".

We decided against the Giornata dell'aria in Vinci (I hate blimps; Eugenia and my sister don't like heights, so wouldn't go for a balloon ride; and there seemed to be the chance that Beatrice's dreaded mimes might make an appearance). After over two hours of planning, and lots of laughter at the growing complexity of what had seemed to be a simple task, the Festa della Terracotta in Montelupo F.no was looking like our best bet.

Anticlimactically: just then, the phone rang! Friends had realized they had a free day, too, and wanted our families to get together. They were not very excited about the terracotta festa. We decided to have lunch together (yes, I got to cook and eat another meal at home!) at our house, walk to the center and see an exhibit of recycled trash turned into art at Palazzo Strozzi, wander around a bit, then have gelato. It ended up being a wonderful day, even without my sagra.

Resources

The Umbrian Sagra Survival Guide: How to behave at a local Italian festival, which ones to go to, by Rebecca from Italy.

Summer is the Time for Sagra!: Anne Robichaud describes the local "Primavera Sant'Enea" (Spring in Sant'Enea) sagra in Umbria, what to expect at a summer sagra.


Maureen is a SlowTrav moderator. (Thanks to Larry David, and the Soup Nazi, for the title of this postcard.)

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