Torta dei Fieschi (Fieschi’s cake)

 

Not very far from the famous (and cramped, and incredibly expensive) village of Portofino, Lavagna takes its name from the stone used to make blackboards, which compose most of the slanted hills plunging right into the sea here. The center of the town, with its charming Renaissance-age buildings and passages, is the setting for a very unusual reenactment. In fact, it reenacts an imaginary banquet held for the 1230 marriage of count Opizzo Fiesco with… well, no trace of her remained, so a local historian simply invented one madam Bianca de’ Bianchi to wear the bridal veil.

He also invented six city wards and their emblems, but no matter how fishy this story sounds he had an astounding success – and since 1949 no less than 15,000 people rush to Lavagna on the hottest night of the year (temperature speaking) to pack its ancient streets and squares. Why? To have fun, of course… and because of the cake. The ‘Fieschi’s cake’ that gives the name to the event is in fact the largest cake in the world, weighing thirteen hundred kilograms and towering well over ten meters high. While for practical and hygienic reasons it comes pre-cut in thousands of slices, it is a wonderful centerpiece in the main village square, and it is unveiled by “Bianca” after a beautiful parade showcasing original historic costumes.

According to the story, the noble couple offered a similar cake to the people of Lavagna to celebrate their marriage, so it is free for anyone – anyone who wins the couples’ game, in fact. To get your cake you will have to buy a color-coded ticked with a name printed on it. If you manage to find a person of the opposite sex with a matching ticket, you win a slice each. If the prospect of fighting fifteen hundred people for a dessert is too much for you, you will find the few surviving portions sold in the local bakeries next morning. You may want to be in town one day earlier, by the way, as you will be able to see several more serious reenactments, including acrobatic flag-waving (it is more spectacular than it sounds), renassaince music and dances, historical fighting demonstrations and more.