Crispy bruschetta with a hardy red wine, tastes of pecorino cheeses, and roasted chestnuts were a buonissimo prelude to Cascia’s January song competition of rural Epiphany-time music,
The groups competing in the song contest would be heading into the piazza from the Basilica di Santa Rita, beloved 14th-c saint born near Cascia.
Huge white tents were set up below the Basilica and artisanal crafts and local foods – samples offered – entertained the waiting visitors. At our first stop at a stand of legumes, what a surprise to see Geltrude, savior of the mythical “lost bean,” the roveja:
We’d first met Geltrude – and tasted her buonissima zuppa di roveja – in Cascia a few years ago at the Festa delle Tradizioni Rurali. The roveja had enhanced the steamy soup that night but there weren’t any roveja cookies. Geltrude makes them nowadays, though …..
Cheeses with saffron were on sale in the next booth – along with cheeses made with wild fennel, others with the famous Cannara onion and cheeses with chili pepper and chives as well as a walnut cheese. On a wooden polenta plate, cheese samples were set our for visitors.
……but for le coppiette sitting on top of the salami. We’d bought some from the butcher on a recent trip to Preci, another Umbria mountain hilltown, as those chewy salami strips are not typically made in the Assisi area.
Danilo and Pino talked for quite some time about the 2016 earthquake damage in Cascia, nearby Norcia, Preci, and other mountain hill towns.
Before we headed on to see the booth where Diego’s family displayed their wrought iron work, Pino asked if there was a box for offerings. Danilo replied, “No, grazie, noi di Cascia offriamo oggi“ and then with a smile, he poured Pino more wine and offered us both more bruschetta.
…and just in time: we were munching chestnuts as the music of organetti, accordions, cymbals and tambourines began to warm up Cascia. Lusty voices joined in. The competion of the Umbrian rural pasquarelle had started.
Click here to read about – and see! – the Cascia pasturelle festival.
Read about the Cascia festival where Geltrude’s roveja soup was feted.
Click here for a roveja soup recipe.
Read about our recent Preci visit..
Read about Preci and earthquake damage