For those longing to attend a festival in Abruzzo that pulls its enviable food, wine, dance, and community strands together, it’s worth planning a visit to Alanno Ticchione’s Feste delle Uva, grape festival.
The weeks of the vendemmia, Italy’s grape harvest make a fantastic time to visit Abruzzo, particularly that of the harvest of its red Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes. This is the last week of September through to the first week of October, a little later the further inland you travel. The dates are not set in stone, but governed by the weather and climate change brings that have seen it bought forward a little each year. Although the weather is cooler it’s a pleasure to explore the region set against big blue skies and Autumn laced fiery colours of the woods.
Alanno Ticchione’s grape festival is held traditionally on the first Sunday of October. One of the most unusual and heartwarming things about the festival is the sharing of the community’s food created for and made on the day, here it is still for free! It is the favourite festival of one of our Facebook group members, Janet Brady and we asked her what made it special!
What to Expect at the Festa della Uva?
Prayers start the day at the Festa delle Uva in what feels like a tiny church with the village crammed in, during which the concas blessed. Concas are the famous copper water carrying icon of Abruzzo yesteryear that were used to fill up at the local fountain, before being carried on each signora or child’s head, balanced on a ring to make it a little steadier and comfortable.
This is followed by a parade in pairs of the dancers kitted out in their traditional clothes and the ‘dance’ of the flower-filled concas. Everyone practices all year for this event and it’s a joy to behold for anyone suffering from post-summer blues.
After the dancing, a huge long table is laid out under the shade of the trees, on which the delicious cakes and delicacies are laid out that the ladies have made at home that will be shared at lunch. The men parade around siphoning the wine out of large plastic Gerry cans on their back!
Once the brightly coloured floats of tractors and cycles that celebrate everything grape and wine-related finish rolling round the village, the pasta rolling competition starts for the women! The sagne pasta produced by this is then used for everyone’s lunch! Click here for a delicious recipe for sagne with fried chickpeas and sweet chili! For this very traditional type of pasta, just flour and water is used for the dough which is then rolled out thinly with just a rolling pin and cut into diamonds or rectangles depending on where in Abruzzo you are. A choice of Sagne e Fagioli (beans) or Sagne e Cecci (chickpeas) is the choice for everyone’s free lunch.
A Women’s Work and Fun…
It’s a busy day for the women, when is it not! After lunch, they then jump into the tubs and begin crushing the grapes with their feet, a great photo opportunity for those that love people-based photos. This is followed by more dancing into the evening with the finale being the dance of the Pupa, the dancing puppet, with one brave soul inside what seems a mass of sizzling sparklers and fireworks as it prances across the piazza entertaining both children and adults.
Alanna Scalo, Piazza Alcide de Gasperi