Last time we looked, there were three truffle fairs throughout the year in Acqualagna.
The Regional Black Truffle Fair is held around the 20th February, the Regional Summer Truffle fair is held mid August and the most important, the National Truffle Fair, is held for 2 weeks from the end of October. Amongst the stands of the latter it is possible to taste the local production as well as that from other regions in Italy.
Although dogs are still used to find truffles in the forests and woods of the area, the real commercialization of the product began in 1933 thanks to the work of Doctor Franceso Francolini.
He was the first to dabble in seed propagation and successfully reproduced the plant outside its natural habitat. Now almost 50% of black truffles are grown in this way.
There are many ways of sampling that distinctive flavor.
Among the products to be found near Acqualagna are 'truffle butter', 'truffle sauce', 'truffle and olive oil', 'local cheese with truffles' and the relatively new 'crescia di Pasqua a pannatone', a type of fresh bread with salt, egg and truffle.
We like the Maccheroncini di Campofilone with white truffle.
Acqualagna is a town of some 4000 inhabitants settled between the two hills of Gola and Furlo in the province of Pesaro Urbino, in Le Marche
Scanning the Delicious Italy 'Real Italian Food Fans' Community on Google+ last week, we noticed the following:
"Ciao tutti, we've recently launched the best Italian menu translator app ever, and I have seven promo codes to give it away free for iphones or ipads for the first seven who ask, so don't hesitate! A presto!"
We didn't hesitate and received our promo code immediately from Dana Facaros, co-author of the Mangia! App.
Now a lot of Apps struggle to get our attention (best 30 ice cream parlours in Rome etc), but food combined with language never fails, and even more so when Dana confirmed that the Puglian delicacy of 'carthedhathe' appears in the App with three slight local dialect variations namely, 'carteddate', 'cartellate and 'ncareddrate'.
We knew then we were dealing with experts.
In fact, Dana and fellow author Michael Pauls have written 26 Cadogan Guides to Italy since 1981 admitting they have 'trudged every town from Ventimiglia to Trapani at least once or twice'.
It's great that the language theme opens the App starting with a 5 minute Italian Grammar Lesson and Italian Pronunciation Guide, as well as a section on 'Restaurant Words and Customs' to help you deliver your order perfectly.
Further advice can be found in 'Italian cheese Labels' and 'Italian Bar Words and Customs' under the subtitle 'How to get a Drink'.
Best of all is an A-Z focusing on 'General, Obscure and Dialect'. Just for this it's worth havng the App.
To give you an example, any dish '... alla Petronia' means 'prepared in a Bologna style' after the city's Patron Saint Peter.
We also learned that tomato sauce in Naples is called 'pummarola'.
You can search for specific food via 20 categories with classic labels such as pizzas, pasta, snacks etc, or else by the name of a food or dish if you know it.
There are over 2000 items and each has a short biography, image and map.
When we say map, it is an indication of the nearest place in Italy where you can enjoy the dish based on your current location.
For example, our studio is in Rome and we now know that the nearest oven where they bake the famous bread from Genzano is exactly 36,2 km away.
A bar of chocolate from Modica is a distant 730km away.
The App is being constantly updated, not just by the authors, but also by users who can suggest food products and other information.
As Dana told us, as well as over 30 years of first hand knowledge, the App also took 2 years to compile. A massive effort.
As we said in Google+, if you like Delicious Italy, you'll love the Mangia App.
The zone of Bobbio in the province of Piacenza has always been inhabited.
The town's history goes back to the stone age and it eventually became home to both the Liguri and Gauls.
The Romans took it over only after bloody battles in the years before the birth of Christ.
The location was ideal for trade with the Val Trebbia and the first abbey was built in 614 by an Irish monk by the name of 'Colombano' who had the protection of the Longobards.
It became known across Europe over the next 1000 years as a center of learning and cultural reference point and not by chance one of the richest monasteries in Italy.
Visitors today can view the crypt and see the sarcophagus of the now Saint Colombano as well as the museum dedicated to the area.
The Bra cheese festival is an essential appointment for all of us passionate about eating well, not only in Italy. Described as the biggest collection of quality cheeses in Italy each year, 'Cheese' is organised by Slow Food, the City of Bra and the Ente Turismo Alba, Bra, Langhe and Roero.
The event is usually held over the 3rd weekend of September every two years, 2009 .. 2011 etc, and attracts around 150,000 people and the organisers expect them to eat 400kg of Swiss Cheese and buy 1200kg of Italy's finest mozzarella.
The whole of Bra is involved with stands lining the length of the 'centro storico'. The overall aim is to promote regional producers and local products who are under threat from inevitable market forces.
The Camogli fish festival is actually called the Fish Festival of Saint Fortunato, patron saint of fishermen and is held in the first half of May.
This is the most famous event that happens in this drop-dead gorgeous Mediterranean port of Camogli. Free fried fish are dished out in front of the quaint miniature harbor (which is not far from, and is very similar to what Portofino was like before it was discovered by tourists).
The odd custom originated during the 2nd World War, when the wive of the local fishermen offered fresh fish to the Holy Virgin because she had protected their husbands from the war.
The night before, however, there is a very, very impressive fireworks display that starts around 10:00 PM after which, there is a most amazing competition of bonfires between the two main neighborhoods of the city in which two gigantic wooden and paper structures that are built on the beach following creative, new themes each year (and often reaching two stories high) are torched.
Citizens spend the day before filling these structures with unwanted furniture, scrap wood, old doors and anything flammable that they have about the house.
The fires are lit by a 'firewire' that descends from the top steeple of the picturesque church which is illuminated in a blaze of electric lights that dazzles the optical senses.
The flames seem to lick the sky shooting upwards of 6 stories and requiring the fire department to keep their hoses blasting throughout the night in order to douse wayward flames that many times leap out to threaten observers.
This one is worth a detour to see!
text by Dan Hostetler
Ariccia in the Roman hills of Lazio is well known for its pork or porchetta.
But this Italian roasted pork delicacy can be found across central Italy, not least in Campli in Abruzzo in the province of Teramo.
At the middle of August go there for porchetta ham festival or 'sagra della porchetta italica'.
It is, in effect, an annual competition when the best local pork is judged in the main square of Campli.
The event attracts many people from around the region as well as curious holiday makers. It is the summer gourmet happening for this delightful town.