Porcino festivals

 

Porcino is the Italian name of the penny bun, or cep. It is a very tasty mushroom that grows pretty much everywhere in the northern emisphere, but whose flavor obviously depends on the nutrients it finds in the soil, and in the climate it grows in. Industrial farming, in example, produces a completely flavorless variant. Climate changes are however impacting the overall quality of porcini (this is the plural form) everywhere. Once again, the unique geography of Italy comes to the rescue of quality food. Thanks to an almost ideal mix of topsoil composition, rainfall and exposition to the sun, Italian porcini happen to be amongst the best in the world. As a consequence, this type of mushroom appear in many recipes ranging from the basic (like funghi trifolati, cooked in oil, parsley and garlic) to highly complex dishes and as a condiment to other foods, like on pizza or as part of pasta sauces.

With such a noble history, it is no surprise that the porcino mushroom also is the guest of honor of several festivals throughout the peninsula of Italy. The sagre begin in late August and dot the whole Fall calendar, covering the whole territory. The most important ones are in Cortona (near Arezzo), Oriolo Romano (Viterbo), Quassolo (Torino), Castelcivita (Salerno) and Lariano (Roma). The latter two are especially interesting for other characteristics also: the first is home to a wonderful cave complex, and the other of traditional and unique bread-making.

You can easily find the festivals closer to the places touched by your trip to Italy by googling them: there really is no shortage of them. On the other hand, none of them really excels above the others and you can expect pretty much the same type of event anywhere. Beside dancing, a raffle and a farmers’ market, you will find huge tents where the mushrooms are cooked in six or seven main recipes, and under which you can eat even in case of bad weather. The prices are generally very inexpensive, and as it often happens with these festivals this can be a great opportunity to taste real Italian home cooking on a budget.