In Italy, mostly in central regions like Tuscany, Emilia Romagna or Lazio, a sagra (pl. sagre) is a local food festival. The various sagre or local food festivals almost always have their origins in old country fairs, sport events or similar entertainments. The sagre are organized and celebrated by the local people so the tourists can feel the real atmosphere of the countryside feast.
The sagra, or local food festivals in Tuscany, is often dedicated to some specific local food, and the name of the sagra includes that food. For example, you can find a Sagra della Rana (frog), a Sagra della Cipolla (onion), a Sagra della Cozza (mussel), a Sagra del Cinghiale (wild boar) and so on. Usually it is organized in the outdoor, like the stadium or the square. The food is cooked by the local people on site.
How do the local food festivals in Tuscany work? When on site, first you need to take a menu and write down you order (put the quantity next to the dish name), then go to the cash to order and to pay. Then one of the staff members will show you the table and will take your order, probably at the same table with the local people. Very often your order arrives all together, so don‘t be surprised or don‘t complain – it‘s sagra, not a restaurant!
Our team created the list of the best local food festivals in Tuscany. Our best choices are (before going please check the dates!) :
Sagra della Cozza (mussel festival) in Cecina. The mussel festival of Cecina is organized by the GS Rugby Cecina and it is held for the 44th time in 2015. Must try dishes: cacciucco alla livornese (sea food soup), polpo briao („drunk“ octopus), zuppa di cozze alla marinara (mussel soup). Held in August.
Sagra del Cinghiale (wild boar festival) in Gabbro. The wild boar festival takes place in the small town in the foresty hills not very far from the seacoast. For many years the sagra is organized by the hunting club „La Valle del Chioma”. Must try dishes: pappardelle al cinghiale (pasta with boar meat sauce), cinghiale in salmì (stewed boar meat), grigliata di carne (mix of grilled meat). Held in July.
Sagra delle Ciliegie (cherry festival) in Lari. Cherry festival in Lari is one of the oldest and most popular local food festivals in Tuscany, counting almost 60 editions. The festival is held in the medieval center of Lari. Must try dishes: crostini misti (mix of starters), grigliata di carne (mix of grilled meat) and different types of sweets with cherries). Held in May.
Sagra del Crostino (crostino festival) in Santa Brigida. The local food festival is held not far from Florence, in the small town of Santa Brigida. Must try dishes: crostini misti (mix of starters), grigliata di carne (mix of grilled meat). Held in August or September.
Sagra del Cacciucco e della Frittura di Pesce (sea food festival) in Orbetello. Orbetello is a very special and beautiful place in South Tuscany. Must try dishes: cacciucco (sea food soup), frittura di pesce (mixed grilled fish), insalata di mare (sea food salad). Held in August.
Sagra della Paella (paella festival) in Buti. Even if paella is nor Italian neither Tuscan dish, sagra in this small and charming town is worth your attention. The town reminds remote magic place, and the food is very tasty. Must try dishes: paella, sangria. Held in July.
Sagra del Cacciucco e del Gamberone (sea food festival) in Rufina. Another good food festival near Florence is held in Ruffina. Must try dishes: antipasto di mare (sea food starters), cacciucco (sea food soup), gamberoni alla griglia (grilled king prawns), spaghetti al polpo (spaghetti with octopus), spaghetti al granchio (spaghetti with crab). Held in April or May.
Sagra della Miseria (misery festival) in Colle Val d’Elsa. This sagra is a gastronomic initiative dedicated to the rediscovery of the simple and typical Tuscan cuisine, called “cucina povera”. Must try dishes: zuppa di pane (bread soup), porchetta (pork meat), fagioli all’uccelletto e salsicce (sausage and beans). Held in June.
Sagra della Zuppa (soup festival) in Massarella, Fucecchio. The festival is one of the historic Tuscan sargras. Must try dishes: different types of soup. Held in July.