Food Festivals abound in Umbria. Traditionally they were always centered on a local food of the town where the sagra was held. More recently, eager to jump on the bandwagon, many towns have sadly “invented” sagre that have nothing to do at all with their own tradition or have hired “teams” from other regions to come in to run the food festivals. We have long stopped going to those, finding them much less enjoyable with little or no local citizenship participation…with little…if any…ragion di essere.
There is an interesting national listing of Sagre that takes into consideration many factors in assigning the top 10. Local participation of the townspeople is one of the most important factors. Umbrian festivals, for the most part, score well along these lines.
La Sagra della Cipolla in the small, flat (one of the few in Umbria) town of Cannara (about 15 minutes from Bevagna), held the first two weeks in early September, satisfies all the criteria for an excellent festival: it is centered around its very own traditional product – the humble onion – AND has an almost 100% local participation in its organization. It does allow people from other regions to come to sell their fair-like goods along the streets, but the cooking and the serving are done by local residents.
The food in any and all of the taverns is excellent: soups, parmigiana, pasta sauces, stews, starters…even desserts are based on onions. As you can see from the photos we took this year, Cannara grows a wide array of onions – all of excellent quality.
The Sagra della Cipolla in Cannara celebrated its 35th year this September. I don’t think we have missed but three or four years. We always enjoy going, trying to go for two dinners in the two-week time frame. We have been fortunate to share this experience some years with guests who have enjoyed it as much as we always have!
La Sagra della Cipolla in Cannara – one of our very favorite food festivals.