‘Relax!’ is a command to me as a tour organiser and to you as a traveller. There’s no way you can see everything, so we may as well leave time to rest, absorb and enjoy. My favourite way to wind down is to go to a village festival, called a sagra. It’s impossible not to relax, while at the same time soaking in the local culture.
The village of Cascio is top of my list for an experience without deadlines. I’ve already written about its wood-fired oven sagra in spring (http://slowtraveltours.com/blog/a-feast-from-wood-fired-ovens/). At the end of July and early August the village puts on its equally relaxing Sagra delle Crisciolette. See below for a note about the criscioletta. Right now, we’re going to the sagra.
No stress about arriving in time. Any time from 7 pm onwards is fine. There’s lots of parking and heaps of food.
Dinner is a tour of the picturesque mediaeval village.
When you’re ready, we move on for the next course. You might want to stop as you pass the virtuosi crisciolette makers, either to admire their skill or to get one for your primo (first course).
Settle down at a table and one of the volunteers from the village will whisk your order off to the kitchen and return with your meal.
At the top of the village against the round tower, that other Garfagnana delicacy the neccio is being peeled off the cotte.
Relax. Don’t rush away.
Stay until all your tension has evaporated and you’re ready for a good night’s sleep. Whatever you do, don’t worry about tomorrow. When you’re with me, I’ve already planned it for you. Just relax.
*The criscioletta is a sort of tortilla, made with wheat flour, cornmeal, salt and water. It’s one of a range of flat breads from the Garfagnana (Lucca, Tuscany) that are cooked between cotte, also called testi, two flat discs of iron attached to long handles. They streamline the production of flat bread. No need to press your dough between your hands or in a tortilla press to get a thin round circle. Just mix up your batter, heat your well-greased cotte on a gas burner or BBQ, plop a ladleful on the bottom disk, cover with the top one and press in the middle with a stout wooden stick (or empty wine bottle).
Garnishes are three strips of pancetta slipped between the cotte after squashing the batter,
or wrapping soft cow’s milk cheese in the criscioletta as soon as it’s cooked.
Erica Jarman invites you on inspiring culinary tours of life behind the scenes that you won’t find in any guidebook — get to know the food artisans and craftspeople of Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Piedmont and Liguria. Come join me and my Italian friends and dip into a lifestyle where lunch is more important than business. Find out more at Sapori e Saperi Adventures and follow Erica’s own adventures on her blog.
Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France and other European countries.