- Food & Wine
8 summer festivals not to be missed
Festivals that reveal a region rich with tradition and plenty of tasty treats!
Festivals, local products, traditions, and chances to taste our region's local excellences. Exhibitions and craftspeople who hand down the crafts of long ago.
1. The Melon Festival in the province of Mantua
Every year in June, the streets and squares in the old town centre of Viadana host the Mantua Melon festival. Melons (usually Muskmelons or Cantalupe) are a typical crop in this area and they can be tasted and bought, together with prosciutto, Lambrusco, Grana Padano and other local products thanks to the main companies here. Dinners and themed tasting sessions in restaurants and holiday farmhouses taking part in the initiative. At the farmers’ market there are also hobby stands and the shops will be open in the evening for purchases as you stroll.
2. Festival of San Giovanni in Ossuccio, with illuminated boats and fireworks
Along the banks of Lake Como the summer’s most important appointment is definitely the Festival of San Giovanni, held on the weekend following celebrations for the patron saint in the second half of June.
The Festival of San Giovanni is also called the “Sagra di Lumaghitt”, or the festival of snails as it is customary to eat polenta and snails on the Eve of Saint John and then sail the empty shells across the lake holding lit candles. Today tradition is followed with a wonderful light show thanks to the many boats in the gulf between the island of Comacina and Ossuccio, all lit up with candles. A big party that also involves towns nearby and finishes with a wonderful firework display.
3. Tortelli & Tortelli, a traditional excellence from Crema
One of the typical local food festivals we recommend is "Tortelli & Tortelli" held in Crema in August and dedicated to the typical Crema tortello, filled with amaretti and mostaccino biscuits, citron, nutmeg, lemon, marsala eggnog, Grana Padano cheese and raisins, and served with butter, sage and grate Grana Padano. Six days of fun in company and promotion of typical dishes from Crema.
4. Treviglio and the Turta dei Treì festival
Just a few kilometres outside Bergamo, in September Treviglio holds the “Turta dei Trei” festival to celebrate its typical cake. Set up following a competition organised by the shops in the city of Treviglio to create a cake for the local festival of the Madonna delle Lacrime di Treviglio. Delicious and fragrant, it is made with shortcrust pastry, eggs, vanilla and almonds. It could be called the most classic example of the Italian “torta della nonna”, made with simple, natural, genuine, fresh, local ingredients.
5. Bitto festival in Gerola Alta
A must in Gerola Alta, in the province of Sondrio, is the Bitto cheese festival in September. Held to celebrate the return to town of the shepherds with their flocks from the mountains. The milk produced during the summer in the high pastures is processed up there and the rounds of Bitto cheese start to fill the shelves in the cheese factories and the farms. During the festival, you can visit the old town centre of Gerola and the characteristic villages of Fenile and Castello, the exhibition covering the fifty years of Bitto and the historic locations of the Eco-museum, the Casera del Bitto, the old mill, the loom and the carpentry shop. There is obviously also tasting of typical products, dinner in company and performances by folklore groups.
6. Tasting and delicious dishes at the National Gorgonzola Festival
A must in September is the National Gorgonzola Festival, a chance to get a close up look at this very important product and rediscover its place of origin. Gorgonzola is one of the best-known and most popular cheeses with DOP marking (with protected denomination of origin) both in Italy and internationally. Days filled with exhibitions, teaching workshops, displays of artistic crafts, concerts, dances, sport and performances for children and adults. All this without ignoring, obviously, the star of the festival: gorgonzola. For tasting, trying, and discovering through samples and dishes.
7. Polenta Festival in Corno Giovine
An event that shows off the ability of the maestros in Trentino Alto Adige, which every year bring the secrets of “Polenta carbonara” to the Bassa Atesina. A recipe handed down from one generation to the next that has kept all its genuine, simple flavour from the past. The different kinds of polenta can be tasted during the festival in October. From the more traditional combination with cotechino, cod or braised meat, to more sophisticated pairings with shin, wild boar and horsemeat, right through to the typical Lodi dish of polenta and raspadura, cheese served in traditional wafer-thin shavings.
8. An appointment with art in Valle Camonica
Bienno, a medieval town in the province of Brescia, in Valle Camonica on the border with the Adamello National Park, hosts a Market-Exhibition in August. Hugely famous throughout the north of Italy, it is one of the most popular events in the area. A real moment for art, crafts and ancient trades in one of Italy’s Most Beautiful Villages, thanks to the skilled hands of sculptors, blacksmiths and craftspeople.