Stop me if you have heard this story before, because I like to tell it pretty often:
When I first moved to Rome, it was late September.
My first weekend in town, a colleague suggested we go to Marino for a festival.
A party? Sure! I was new and really wanted to experience all Rome/Italy had to offer.
We pulled up to Marino, and walked through tents selling sweet treats. There were masses of people everywhere, so we squeezed into a doorway and sat on the house’s steps to eat porchetta (a revelation in itself).
Well fed, we made our way to the center of town, where the fountain was literally, LITERALLY, spraying out white wine. People were passing back water bottles full of wine, laughing, and singing.
THIS is Italy, I thought. Free wine from fountains!
It turns out, I just had lucky timing and had stumbled upon the sagra dell’uva on my first few days in town.
But sagre (festivals) remain one of my favorite things about live in Italy. Once a year, towns and villages throw a big party to celebrate a famous local food or event.
There are plenty of sagre around the city, but here are the four best festivals near Rome that you have to see at least once.
1. Wine Festival in Marino: Marino’s Sagra dell’uva is something you have to experience at least once. Every autumn, they celebrate the harvest by diverting the town’s water supply and letting wine flow freely from the fountain in their main square. In 2016, it will take place on October 2nd. Mark you calendars and follow the event on Facebook to keep up-to-date on the Festa del Vino.
2. Strawberry Festival in Nemi: Nemi is famous for its tiny wild strawberries. You can revel in the glory of the sweet red berries at the annual strawberry festival – or sagra delle fragole. You can find everything from strawberry juice to strawberry pizza, as well as a flower show and a parade on the main days. For information about the next, you can check the Nemi website. It should be held around the first week of June.
3. Infiorata in Genzano di Roma: Every year, after Corpus Christi, the inhabitants of Genzano di Roma set out on the painstaking task of carefully laying out petals to make elaborate mosaics of flowers. The infiorata covers the main road from top to bottom, always following a specific theme. In 2016, the flower festival will take place on the 28th, 29th and 30th of May. For more information check here.
4. Artichoke festival in Ladispoli: Just in time for this weekend — the 66th edition of the Sagra del Carciofo Romanesco will take place from 8-10 April in Ladispoli (about 35 km from Rome). This festival is about all things artichoke, and is held just before the delicious veg goes out of season. You can plan your weekend of carciofi based on this program of events.
Did I miss any of your other favorite sagre near Rome?