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Spello Celebrates its Gold

Date: December 6, 2011 - categories: , , , , , - Leave your thoughts

Ancient olive trees in Spello (photo by J. Eidem)

Ancient olive trees (photo by J. Eidem)

Acclaimed “la citta’ dell’olio”, Spello celebrates its “liquid gold” with the Festa dell’olivo e Sagra della Bruschetta every year in early December. Its 50th anniversary edition transforms this medieval hilltown gem into a showplace of art and photography exhibits, open markets, traditional Umbrian song and dance performances, oilve-oil tasting events – and more! – the second weekend of December.

The president of the local Pro Loco (small tourist board), Umberto Natale, says ” This manifestazione is much-loved by our Spellani and is dedicated to the land, our traditions, and a cultivation which has been the livelihood for centuries for many our families. We have now become a reference point for the production of top extra-virgin olive oils. We owe this to the excellence of our producers.”

Olive oil and Bruschetta

Bruschetta with the new olive oil, just milled

The frescoed Palazzo Comunale (city hall) will become the “Palazzo dell’Olio” where local artists and photographers will display their works on the olive/olive tree theme on the upper floor and at the entryway, local students will offer tastes of the newly-milled area olive oils to visitors.
On the first floor, organic farmers will offer tastings of their olive oils and other organic products at the sixteen stands of the “Biofest”. In another room of the Palazzo dell’Olio, tastes of Port will be offered to guests, the contribution of Murca, Portugal, Spello’s sister city. On Saturday night, olive oil even stars in a theatrical presentation, “L’Olio di Scipio”, where the history of Italy “flows,as smooth as olive oil”!

Spello children chorus

Spello children chorus

For the three days of the festival, the medieval taverne of Spello’s three rioni (districts) will offer bruschetta drizzled with the new olive oil, traditional legume soups, local sweets and other area culinary delights, each enhanced with the olio nuovo. In the town piazzas – in the farm dress of un tempo passato – local children will sing traditional harvest songs, as the older people dance the saltarello to accordian music. With tambourine players and the accordian, too, groups of men harmonize in the cant’arecchia (“sing by ear”) rural song to be treasured – and now so infrequently heard.

Highpoint of the festival will be the arrival of 50 moraiolo olive trees (to commemorate 50 years of celebration) – on farm carts puiled by oxen or by mules or donkeys. Umbria cultivates principally five varieties of olives and the moraiolo is the most prevalent and esteemed. From the terraced olive groves backdropping Spello, a stately platoon of twisted silver-leafed plants will enter the medieval walls in a sort of pacific conquest. All the Spellani will be ready with a joyful welcome.

Click here to read about another wondrous Spello festival
Click here to read about cant’arecchia, treasured rural tradition
Click here to read about Umbria’s “liquid gold”

Thanks to Lyn and Ted Beckenham for their photos

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