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:

Hmmm… grilled steaks for dinner tonight?



2 Responses to “Cortona Sagra della Bistecca – Beef Steak Festival”

  1. Sandy Holswade August 18, 2012 at 12:30 PM #

    Hi Judy!

    Yes – steaks tonight, but they probably won’t hold up to the grilled steaks in Cortona! Yum. What a fabulous video and website showing the beauty of Cortona. Thanks to you and Len, everything looked very familiar, and I felt a little nostalgic for the wonderful visit we had.




    • blogginginitaly August 18, 2012 at 4:58 PM #

      Hi Sandy,
      A cooking tip from the Cortona butcher…
      -Rinse meat and pat dry; leave out of frig for about 30 minutes before cooking
      -Place on hot grill adding nothing to the meat
      -After about 5-7 minutes, turn over and salt cooked side
      -“Watch with your eyes” to not overcook, then remove meat from grill
      -Before serving, drizzle olive oil, then salt (pepper optional)
      -Finally, add a squeeze of lemon!
      Are you wearing your scarves???


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