Numerous festivals known as sagre are held every fall in Italy to celebrate everything, from wine to chestnuts and truffles.
Sagre is a great way to try local food, directly from the producer, while also exploring a small, undiscovered (and often beautiful) town. A truffle festival is something that’s hard to find. We visited it in Gubbio, Umbria, on a hilltop.
Tartufi, also known in Italian as truffles, are rare mushrooms that have a unique flavor. They can cost hundreds of euros per kilogram. White truffles are the more rare of the two types, while black truffles are the most prized. White truffle season is now. Black truffles and black truffle festivals will start appearing in the winter.
Festivals like this are open to all levels of foodie. They are free to attend. The stalls are open to the public and you can browse through them, sampling everything. You can also pay a small fee to sample a variety of meats, cheeses, and other local delights at the tasting events. It is up to you whether you decide to buy anything.
Most sagre offer other local food, in addition to the official food. The Gubbio festival was no exception. Many locations featured tents of specialty non-truffled products in a variety of locations, including taralli from Puglia and specialty cheeses from Northern Italy. The prices were much lower than what they would be in an Italian market, and certainly not in any American import food shop. The prices were also great because sellers offered samples and tastes to their customers, so a walk through a tent area was almost like a meal.
There were also tartufi tents. We were overwhelmed by the overwhelming, earthy aroma of so many truffles in one spot. And, while we couldn’t shell out 500 euros for some of the nicer truffles, there was something for every price range, from smaller, uglier truffles that were a fraction of the cost, to truffled sauces, honeys, pates, and even a truffle-and-gorgonzola mix, for 5 euros and up.
It’s hard to beat the experience of tasting traditional Italian foods, and then buying them directly from the artisans and farmers who make them. There is no better way to experience authentic Italian shopping than amongst so many Italian families. Many of them also come from nearby cities and towns just for the specialty shopping. These sagre can be a great way to explore new places in Italy, as they are often located in beautiful, undiscovered towns.
Although the kick-off truffle festival in Gubbio has ended, there are still many options if you wish to attend a truffle festival. These include:
Gubbio still hosts the “Il Mese del Tartufo” festival, which runs from November 1st to December 10th. It features events that focus on different truffle-related products as well as Umbrian specialties.
The International White Truffle Festival in Alba will continue until Nov. 13.
From Nov. 4-Nov. 6, Umbria’s Citta di Castello hosts the Mostra Mercato Nazionale del Tartufo Bianco.
The “Tartufesta ” will be held in Carbonara di Po on Nov. 5-6, 12-13 and 13-14. It includes tastings of Mantuan delights like risotto, pumpkin tortellini, and truffled cavaccio.
The 3rd Fiera nazionale del Tartufo Bianco di Campoli Appennino is held just 50 minutes from Rome, Campoli. These two weekends will also feature the Mostra Mercato nazionale del Tartufo di Valtopina, which is located in Umbria near Assisi or Perugia.
Casteggio is home to the 27th Edizione della Fiera del Tartufo and Miele (festival for honey and truffles) on Nov. 27.
From Nov. 25-27, Muzzana del Turgnano, near Udine, hosts the Fiera del Tartufo Bianco Pregiato a Muzzana.
The Mostra Mercato Del Tartufo Bianco will be held in Umbria from December 7-8.
You can find a complete list of fiere and sagre taking place in Italy at the Sagre e Ditorni sites.