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Cortona Sagra della Bistecca – Beef Steak Festival

18 Aug

Ferragosto…an Italian word filled with celebration.

The Latin “Feriae Augusti” denoted the “August Rest” which was a month-long holiday period proclaimed in the 18th century by emperor Augustus. It was a time when people could relax after all the hard work associated with the harvest and the end of the year’s main agricultural work. It was also a time when nobility mixed with the workers.

Over time, the festival shortened to a few weeks and eventually became a one-day event, celebrated on August 15 each year. For Italians, this bank holiday combines elements of both ancient and Christian worlds, as August 15 also commemorates the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

Cities throughout Italy celebrate this day with great festivals. If you happened to be  in Cortona, you no doubt enjoyed the annual Sagra della Bistecca, or beef steak festival, held in the normally quiet Parterre, or public garden pictured here.

For the festival, the quiet setting is transformed. An enormous grill, some 14-meters long, is erected. Locals don chef’s aprons, and with extra long forks, lovingly go about the work of grilling mouth-watering T-bone steaks, Italian sausages, and spareribs for the locals who have crowded the park to enjoy the celebration with family and friends.

Photo: “Classic Tuscan Homes”

Local wines and cheeses compliment the grilled meats and make for a perfect feast and day of relaxation. If interested, I’ve included a You Tube clip of the Cortona event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anpiFhse558

Hmmm… grilled steaks for dinner tonight?

Ciao,

Judy

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