Anne's Blog

A Sagra Near Assisi for Top Umbria Cuisine

Date: August 22, 2019 - categories: , , , , , , , , - 4 Comments

Up on the hill, Assisi backdrops the small (pop. 2500) village of Rivotorto,  where Umbria’s traditional rural cuisine draws the locals – and not only! – for nine mid-August evenings of feasting, ballroom dancing and more.

A variety of pre-dinner events highlight this sagra (a food festival where local volunteers do the cooking), ranging from a presentation by Assisi’s medieval banner-wavers, in medieval dress….

…..to a re-evocation of a summer wheat harvest to a presentation of antique musical instruments used by the local band.  A conference between grandparents and teen grandchildren introduces one evening of feasting and dancing; on another day, voices join to bring alive traditional Umbrian rural songs.

But the highlight?  Logicamente, the food (this is Italy, after all).

At the table opposite ours, a couple was taking food photos for their family back in Padua:

And here at Rivotorto’s Antichi Sapori festival, “old flavors” (or the delectable flavors of the humble rural cooking of past generations) entice. Roast goose was a top-seller on the menu the evening we were there:

I ordered homemade tagliatelle (made with organic goose eggs!) with a sauce of goose meat.  Pino savored a forkful and then enjoyed his order of stewed goose meat with spinach on the side

We often enjoy a dinner at one sagra or another throughout our region of Umbria from late spring to late fall – when the “sagra season” ends – but this is the only Umbria sagra where the goodness you ordered arrives at your table in terra-cotta dishes.

Some of those smiling young volunteer-servers (over one hundred at this sagra) zip to the tables, delivering the orders…..

…..while others clear the tables, pushing grocery carts for loading up the terra-cotta dishes:

Others set the tables – with paper-wrapped metal silverware, plastic utensils not used (your wine is poured into glasses, not the usual plastic cups of most sagre):

Although plastic plates and cutlery are the norm, more and more villages are becoming eco-conscious and reducing the use of plastic at their sagre.  But here in Rivotorto, these terra-cotta dishes have always been used for as one of the organizers told me, “the goodness of these traditional dishes would quite simply be lost if served on plastic.”

The other novelty of Antichi Sapori? Not the same menu throughout the sagra but different menus each evening. I asked three young women enjoying their feast if the food at this sagra was what drew them back each year…..

Non veramente, Signora,” they told me, smiling.  The draw for them was another innovation of this sagra: the disco pub for young people, behind the food tents.

After their feast, they’d be heading to dance at the pub.  Most of the other diners would head to the open-air bandstand near the tables for ballroom-dancing.

Parents dancing with their children, too…like the young father I saw whirling his son around the dance floor:

The name of each orchestra is always printed on the sagra programs and on posters around town. The dancing was just starting as we left but this orchestra was a popular one and would be drawing the crowds.

For thirty-two years now Rivotorto’s Antichi Sapori has offered buonissimo cuisine at prezzi popolari (reasonable, affordable prices) and summertime entertainment to all ages. Every year, more people discover this sagra.

Drop in, too, if you’re in Umbria in August….

….and if you’re here during another month, do let me know and I’ll be glad to share with you “sagra tips.”

Read about a sagra our apartment guests loved

Click here to read all about la sagra (and note the links!)

4 Comments

  • Louise Lockwood says:

    So fun to see these photos and especially, the smile on Pino and your face! We miss you and are glad to see you are still enjoying the many sagras this month. We wish we were with you!

  • Anne Robichaud says:

    Wish you were here with us, too!
    ….and you would have loved their group dancing!!!

  • Camila says:

    Keep enjoying life like that!! Thinking of you and Pino!

  • Anne Robichaud says:

    Wishing you had been along with us for more”sagra good times”!

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