Sorry guys for not showing up for the last month. I ‘ve really had a hard time lately in fitting all I wanted to do in my monthly schedule. As I’ve just told a buona amica: everything goes fine until unexpected events break into your life and mess everything up 😉
Anyway, here I am, proud of my latest podcast on ‘La Sagra‘ or the Local Festival that I just posted on Patreon (one of the reasons why I haven’t written any blog posts recently!).
Here is a little ‘appetizer’ on more than 17 minutes of podcasting 😉
I was born, and I’ve always lived, in Pesaro on the Adriatic sea. However, as my mother is from Ginestreto, a little village with some 300 inhabitants on the surrounding hills, we’ve always owned a country house: in Ginestreto when I was a child, in Sant’Angelo in Lizzola, over the last three decades.
Living in the countryside for part of the Summer season, has turned me into a ‘sagra expert’, provided that being a ‘sagra expert’ is something worth bragging about. What is a sagra anyway? And why is it so rooted in the Italian soul (and stomach?). Well, before I start digging into the topic, enjoy the names of a few of the most popular sagre around here: Sagra della Lumaca (Snail Festival), Sagra Polentara (Maize Pudding Festival), Sagra delle Pesche (Peach Festival), Sagra delle Ciliegie (Cherry Festival), Sagra del Basilico (Basil Festival), Sagra della Fava e del Formaggio (Broad Bean and Cheese Festival), Sagra del Fagiano e della Fragola (Pheasant and Strawberry Festival), Sagra dei Fagioli e delle Cotiche (Beans and Pork rind Festival). Walter told me that our carissimo amico americano noticed once that the only sagra we don’t celebrate is that of mineral water!
Music and dance: this is another fundamental element of all sagre, even if calling ‘music’ what is generally played in local festivals may be a little too optimistic. Of course, as I play in an amateur string orchestra I may be a little bit biased here but my question is: can you trust a musical group named ‘Genio e Pierrots’ (Genius and Pierrots) where ‘Genius’ is an overweight blond man in his 60’s with a 70s-style hair cut and a golden tacky necklace over his hairy chest, usually wearing a black leather coat or a white jacket with a black T-shirt underneath? If you get the right picture of ‘Genius’ I don’t think you want to know how ‘the Pierrots’ look like… Or what about ‘The Ping-Pongs’ all wearing horrible made-in–China white tail-coats with golden finish? All these groups play the Romagnolo ‘liscio’ repertoire. The basic idea is that people need to dance at sagre in order to get their cholesterol values down as fast as possible, so the local bands start playing waltzes, mazurkas and polkas, all dances for couples, from around 8 pm to midnight. In the ‘liscio’ way of dancing waltzes, mazurkas and polkas you are supposed to make your feet slide (andare via liscio), hence the name. The way these dances are played and sung is really trashy though. Most dances/songs finish with some singer going ‘alè’, if you know what I mean. In the worst cases you get a sad nasal clarinet hiccupping all the way through. However, watching old people dance, sliding their problems away and forgetting for one moment the bitterness of life – with the nerdiest soundtrack in the back – is a show of great emotional impact. You don’t’ know if you want to cry or laugh. Either way you always leave the sagra with an intense feeling of sadness and of time passing inexorably by (maybe also due to the generous wine or beer everyone drinks there).